Inkblot Passwords

Are inkblots meaningless smears of ink, or the secret key to your personality? Though most psychologists no longer use inkblots to determine the twists and turns of your psyche, sometimes they pay attention to the stories you tell yourself about the blobs. Adam Stubblefield, an intern with Microsoft Research, thought that our ability to tell ourselves unique stories about inkblots might be a secret key to a strong digital lock - the online password.

Stubblefield, and his manager at MSR, Dan Simon, knew that people are the weakest link in secure computing environments. They knew that users generally pick weak passwords because they can remember them. They tend to use birthdays, pet's names, spouse's names or birthdays, or a favorite hobby. If a computer system forces us to pick a strong password, we often write it on a post-it note and stick it to the side of our computer, where it can be read and used by any passerby.

Give Me A Hint

"Good passwords are hard to remember. And easy to remember passwords are easy for other people to guess. What we wanted to do is give people a hint to help them remember a good password," said Simon. They needed a hint that would mean something to the user, but not to anyone else. They wanted to use some type of image-based authentication. But there were problems. Most of the methods had what they considered to be a fatal flaw.

News source: Microsoft Research

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