Age-related performance issues for PIN and face-based authentication systems

James Nicholson, Lynne Coventry, Pam Briggs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

39 Citations (Scopus)


Graphical authentication systems typically claim to be more usable than PIN or password-based systems, but these claims often follow limited, single-stage paradigm testing on a young, student population. We present a more demanding test paradigm in which multiple codes are learned and tested over a three-week period. We use this paradigm with two user populations, comparing the performance of younger and older adults. We first establish baseline performance in a study in which populations of younger and older adults learn PIN codes and we follow this with a second study in which younger and older adults use two face-based graphical authentication systems employing young faces vs. old faces as code components. As expected, older adults show relatively poor performance when compared to younger adults, irrespective of the authentication material, but this age-related deficit can be markedly reduced by the introduction of age-appropriate faces. We conclude firstly that this paradigm provides a good basis for the future evaluation of memory-based authentication systems and secondly that age-appropriate face-based authentication is viable in the security marketplace.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI '13
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsSusanne Bødker, Steven Brewster, Patrick Baudisch, Michel Beaudouin-Lafon, Wendy E. Mackay
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450318990
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Changing Perspectives - Palais de Congrès de Paris, Paris, France
Duration: 27 Apr 20132 May 2013
Conference number: 31st


Conference31st Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleCHI 2013
Internet address


  • Usable security
  • Graphical codes
  • Authentication
  • Older adults


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