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A Field Study of User Behavior and Perception in Smartcard Authentication



Emile L. Morse, Celeste L. Paul, Aiping L. Zhang, Yee-Yin Choong, Mary F. Theofanos


A field study of 24 participants over 10 weeks explored user behavior and perception in a smartcard authentication system. Ethnographic methods used to collect data included diaries, surveys, interviews, and field observations. We observed a number of issues users experienced while they integrated smartcards into their work processes, including forgetting smartcards in readers, forgetting to use smartcards to authenticate, and difficulty understanding digital signatures and encryption. The greatest perceived benefit was the use of an easy-to-remember PIN in replacement of complicated passwords. The greatest perceived drawback was the lack of smartcard-supported applications. Overall, most participants had a positive experience using smartcards for authentication. Perceptions were influenced by personal benefits experienced by participants rather than an increase in security.
Proceedings Title
Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2009
Conference Dates
September 5-9, 2011
Conference Location
Conference Title
13th IFIP TC13 Conference on Human-Computer


Human factors, multi-factor authentication, security, smartcard


Morse, E. , Paul, C. , Zhang, A. , Choong, Y. and Theofanos, M. (2011), A Field Study of User Behavior and Perception in Smartcard Authentication, Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2009, Lisbon, -1 (Accessed April 22, 2024)
Created September 9, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017