The Interplay between Humans, Technology and User Authentication: A Cognitive Processing Perspective

Belk, Marios orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6200-0178, Fidas, Christos, Germanakos, Panagiotis and Samaras, George (2017) The Interplay between Humans, Technology and User Authentication: A Cognitive Processing Perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 76 . pp. 184-200. ISSN 0747-5632

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This paper investigates the interplay among human cognitive processing differences (field dependence vs. field independence), alternative interaction device types (desktop vs. touch) and user authentication schemes (textual vs. graphical) towards task completion efficiency and effectiveness. A four-month user study (N=164) was performed under the light of the field dependence-independence theory which underpins human cognitive differences in visual perceptiveness as well as differences in handling contextual information in a holistic or analytic manner. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of results revealed that field independent (FI) users outperformed field dependent users (FD) in graphical authentication, FIs authenticated similarly well on desktop computers as on touch devices, while touch devices negatively affected textual password entry performance of FDs. Users’ feedback from a post-study survey further showed that FD users had memorability issues with graphical authentication and perceived the added difficulty when interacting with textual passwords on touch devices, in contrast to FI users that did not have significant usability and memorability issues on both authentication and interaction device types. Findings highlight the necessity to improve current approaches of knowledge-based user authentication research by incorporating human cognitive factors in both design and run-time. Such an approach is also proposed in this paper.

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