The security of a computer system can be enhanced in an Innovative way through graphical passwords.
We are all aware that passwords can be stolen. Therefore, in order to enhance a computer’s security what is required is innovation. And one of the innovative ways of safeguarding data stored in a computer or a network is through graphical passwords.
Ron Poet, lecturer, School of Computing Science, University of Glasgow, says, “Instead of alphabets and numbers, a graphical password system uses images as the password. In our work, we use simple drawings or doodles (images), while other researchers use faces or even abstract art. These systems are ‘recognition-based,’ which means that when users log on, they have to recognise their personal doodle from a number of distractors, rather than having to remember something.”
Poet and his team chose to work in this area because they felt that human factors are the major cause of weaknesses in information security systems and that providing a password system, which is both secure and easy-to-use will have a major effect on the lives of ordinary people.
“We have already used doodles for authentication in a small specialised system for a number of years. We plan to deploy a larger and more general system in the near future to test our ideas for the automated administration of graphical password systems,” explains Poet.
The team comprising Poet, Karen Renaud and Soumyadeb Chowdhry, a PhD student, are working on different aspects of the research. Their work involves a number of areas like the usability testing, which involves devising and evaluating experiments with ordinary users and basic image analysis.
“We are also working on analysing possible attacks on these systems to quantify their level of security. We are working on how images are viewed in different cultures, which is important in our current globalised world,” says Poet.
According to Poet, it is easier to recognise a picture than to remember a standard password. A password that is easy to remember is of course easy to crack, but secure passwords are difficult to remember. Choosing simple drawings as our images relies on the fact that it is easier to recognise images that we have created ourselves compared to the images that we have been given.
Talking about the challenges they are meeting in their research work, Poet says, “Challenges in our research involves devising a practical graphical password system making it easy for a new user to create and register their doodle. Creating a drawing on a paper, scanning it and registering the image file is probably cumbersome. However, the advent of mobile phones with internet access and touch screens may make the system simpler for social networking sites.”