Analyzing and evaluating usable authentication

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Authors
Karpenski, Justin
Issue Date
2013-12
Type
Electronic thesis
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Language
ENG
Keywords
Information technology and web science
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Abstract
The process of user authentication is an essential part of establishing trust between a system and its users. As the number of systems that accommodate access control and individualized content continue to grow, so does the need for effective methods of user authentication. This paper focuses on evaluating the considerations of common authentication methods from the perspective of both their usability and overall security. This evaluation is performed through an extensive investigation into each method's considerations and through empirical research consisting of practical user assessments with volunteer participants. These user assessments involve tasks including enrollment and various authentication challenges recorded through observation metrics and posttest questionnaires. The findings from this research provide evidence that perceptions regarding the ease of use of an authentication method are heavily influenced by a user's antecedent experience. In addition, the preference toward a given mechanism is significantly affected by its usability, accessibility and inferred level of security. The primary conclusion drawn from this research is that the choice of authentication method not only necessitates attention to the specific system implementation, but also requires a thorough examination of the prospective user population.
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December 2013
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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