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USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association

2007 USENIX Annual Technical Conference

Pp. 369–374 of the Proceedings

Short Paper: Passwords for Everyone: Secure Mnemonic-based Accessible Authentication

Umut Topkara, Mercan Topkara, and Mikhail J. Atallah, Purdue University


In many environments, a computer system is severely constrained to the extent that the practical input mechanisms are merely binary switches. Requiring the user to remember a long random bit string and to authenticate by entering each bit in the available binary input mechanism, is completely impractical. This paper deals with the question of authentication in such environments where the inputs are constrained to be yes/no responses to statements displayed on the user’s screen. We present PassWit, a mnemonic-based system for such environments that combines good usability with high security, and has many additional features such as (to mention a few) resistance to phishing, keystroke-logging, and compatibility with currently deployed systems and password file formats (hence it can co-exist with existing login mechanisms).
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Last changed: 29 August 2007 ac