Simple nudges for better password creation

James Nicholson, Vasilis Vlachokyriakos, Lynne Coventry, Pam Briggs, Patrick Olivier

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

1 Citation (Scopus)


Recent security breaches have highlighted the consequences of reusing passwords across online accounts. Recent guidance on password policies by the UK government recommend an emphasis on password length over an extended character set for generating secure but memorable passwords without cognitive overload. This paper explores the role of three nudges in creating website-specific passwords: financial incentive (present vs absent), length instruction (long password vs no instruction) and stimulus (picture present vs not present). Mechanical Turk workers were asked to create a password in one of these conditions and the resulting passwords were evaluated based on character length, resistance to automated guessing attacks, and time taken to create the password. We found that users created longer passwords when asked to do so or when given a financial incentive and these longer passwords were harder to guess than passwords created with no instruction. Using a picture nudge to support password creation did not lead to passwords that were either longer or more resistant to attacks but did lead to account-specific passwords.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 32nd International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference
EditorsRaymond Bond, Maurice Mulvenna, Jonathan Wallace, Michaela Black
Place of PublicationSwindon
PublisherBCS Learning & Development Ltd.
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event32nd International Human Computer Interaction Conference - Church House, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jul 20186 Jul 2018
Conference number: 32

Publication series

NameElectronic Workshops in Computing
PublisherBCS Learning & Development
ISSN (Electronic)1477-9358


Conference32nd International Human Computer Interaction Conference
Abbreviated titleHCI 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Passwords
  • User authentication
  • Nudges


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