Password-based mobile user authentication is vulnerable to shoulder-surfing. Despite the increasing research on user password entry behavior and mobile security, there is limited understanding of how an adversary identifies a password through shoulder-surfing during mobile authentication. This study empirically examines the behaviors and strategies of password identification through shoulder-surfing with multiple observation attempts and from different observation distances. The results of analyzing data collected from a user study reveal the strategies and dynamics of password identification behaviors. The findings have implications for enhancing users’ password security and improving the design of mobile authentication methods.
Understanding Attacking Behaviors Toward Password-based Mobile User Authentication
Password-based mobile user authentication is vulnerable to a variety of security threats. Shoulder-surfing is the key to those security threats. Despite a large body of research on password security with mobile devices, existing studies have focused on shaping the security behavior of mobile users by enhancing the strengths of user passwords or by establishing secure password composition policies. There is little understanding of how an attacker actually goes about observing the password of a target user. This study empirically examines attackers’ behaviors in observing passwordbased mobile user authentication sessions across the three observation attempts. It collects data through a longitudinal user study and analyzes the data collected through a system log. The results reveal several behavioral patterns of attackers. The findings suggest that attackers are strategic in deploying attacks of shoulder-surfing. The findings have implications for enhancing users’ password security and refining organizations’ password composition policies.
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- Who Are You?! Adventures in Authentication Workshop
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- National Science Foundation
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