Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Password protection draws on new technology

An inventive way of improving password security for handheld devices such as iPhones, Blackberry and Smartphone has been developed at Newcastle University.

The software, which uses pictures instead of letters and numbers, has been initially designed for handheld devices, but could soon be expanded to other areas. Those who took part in testing this system created passwords that were reportedly a thousand times more secure than ordinary textual passwords.

Dr Jeff Yan has taken the emerging Draw a Secret (DAS) technology, a graphical password scheme where users draw their secret password as an image on a grid, and gone a step further. By adding a background to the DAS grid, the Newcastle University researchers have created a system called BDAS: Background Draw a Secret. This helps users remember where they began the drawing they are using as a password and also leads to graphical passwords that are less predictable, longer and more complex.

Dr Yan said: “Most of us have forgotten a pin number or a password at least once, which is why we tend to make them so easy to guess. “However, the human mind has a much greater capacity for remembering images, and it’s certainly true that a picture is worth a thousand words in this instance.”

People who took part in the Newcastle University study, which compared DAS and BDAS use, had to create their own secret password images on the grid. One week later, they were asked to re-create the same image and 95% of the BDAS users were able to do so within three attempts.

Dr Yan said: “Most people drew simple everyday objects such as cars, cups and houses, although one participant did write their name in Persian script.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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