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The Authentication Equation: A Tool to Visualize the Convergence of Security and Usability of Text-Based Passwords



Cathryn A. Ploehn, Kristen Greene


Password management is the ubiquitous struggle of the modern human. Despite usability playing a vital role in authentication, many password policies and requirements focus on security without sufficient consideration of human factors. In fact, security and usability needs are often in contention. Until an improved authentication method beyond character input is developed and implemented on a large scale, developing new methodologies for balancing these competing requirements is vital. This research project focused on building a data visualization tool\\ ( to explore password usability and security metrics. The visualization tool integrates various measurements of passwords, enabling the exploration of the intersection of their usability and security components. The tool is based on insight from previously gathered data from usability studies conducted at the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology. It also leverages web technologies to flexibly display data sets computed from sets of passwords.
Proceedings Title
In Proceedings of the 2015 Human Computer Interaction International Conference
Conference Dates
August 2-7, 2015
Conference Location
Los Angeles, CA
Conference Title
17th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII 2015)


data visualization, usable security, keystrokes, entropy, password policies, password permutation
Created August 4, 2015, Updated February 19, 2017