UMUC Student WRTG 393X February 9, 2009 Abstract A Large-Scale Study of Web Password Habits Although there are alternatives to using passwords such as hardware authentication, challenge and response authentication, or one-time passwords, the reality still exists that passwords are essential to the way users gain access to the World Wide Web. This report examines the general problems with passwords such as insufficient password strength, recollection difficulty, password re-use, number of accounts, and the various risks associated with maintaining passwords. More than a half of a million users opted-in to be surveyed; however, Personally Indefinable Information (PII) was not collected in an effort to further protect the privacy of those being surveyed. This study is different from typical surveys in two ways. First, an actual survey of user behavior is assessed versus using a survey based on what users claim their behavior or habits to be. Last, the number of participants was much greater than previous studies. The results of the three months long study are compiled into a significant report which displays various password averages per user. Based on this survey, conclusions can be made about user accounts and how passwords are used, managed, and maintained on a daily basis. The results of this study confirm that users choose passwords of poor quality, maintain many accounts, re-use passwords frequently, and often forget them, making users vulnerable to attack. Type of Abstract: Informative Reference: Florencio, D., & Herley, C. (2007). A large-scale study of web password habits. In Proceedings of the 16th international Conference on World Wide Web (pp. 657-666). New York, NY: Association for Computing Machinery. doi: 10.1145/1242572.1242661.
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