Usability and user authentication: pictorial passwords vs. pin

Antonella De Angeli, Lynne Coventry, Graham Johnson, Mike Coutts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This paper presents the design and evaluation of the Visual Identification Protocol (VIP) an innovative solution to user authentication based on pictures and visual memory. Three authentication systems were prototyped and compared with the PIN approach in a longitudinal evaluation. The study revealed important knowledge about attitudes towards, and behaviour with, different authentication approaches. VIP was found to be easier to remember and preferred by users, but its usability can be easily disrupted by an inappropriate solution. A detailed error analysis is presented to help understand the limits and constraints of visual memory. This knowledge is instrumental in designing innovative authentication systems of this type.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary ergonomics 2003
EditorsPaul T. McCabe
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780429071751
ISBN (Print)0415309948
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


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