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De Luca, Alexander (2011): Designing Usable and Secure Authentication Mechanisms for Public Spaces. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Mathematik, Informatik und Statistik



Usable and secure authentication is a research field that approaches different challenges related to authentication, including security, from a human-computer interaction perspective. That is, work in this field tries to overcome security, memorability and performance problems that are related to the interaction with an authentication mechanism. More and more services that require authentication, like ticket vending machines or automated teller machines (ATMs), take place in a public setting, in which security threats are more inherent than in other settings. In this work, we approach the problem of usable and secure authentication for public spaces. The key result of the work reported here is a set of well-founded criteria for the systematic evaluation of authentication mechanisms. These criteria are justified by two different types of investigation, which are on the one hand prototypical examples of authentication mechanisms with improved usability and security, and on the other hand empirical studies of security-related behavior in public spaces. So this work can be structured in three steps: Firstly, we present five authentication mechanisms that were designed to overcome the main weaknesses of related work which we identified using a newly created categorization of authentication mechanisms for public spaces. The systems were evaluated in detail and showed encouraging results for future use. This and the negative sides and problems that we encountered with these systems helped us to gain diverse insights on the design and evaluation process of such systems in general. It showed that the development process of authentication mechanisms for public spaces needs to be improved to create better results. Along with this, it provided insights on why related work is difficult to compare to each other. Keeping this in mind, first criteria were identified that can fill these holes and improve design and evaluation of authentication mechanisms, with a focus on the public setting. Furthermore, a series of work was performed to gain insights on factors influencing the quality of authentication mechanisms and to define a catalog of criteria that can be used to support creating such systems. It includes a long-term study of different PIN-entry systems as well as two field studies and field interviews on real world ATM-use. With this, we could refine the previous criteria and define additional criteria, many of them related to human factors. For instance, we showed that social issues, like trust, can highly affect the security of an authentication mechanism. We used these results to define a catalog of seven criteria. Besides their definition, we provide information on how applying them influences the design, implementation and evaluation of a the development process, and more specifically, how adherence improves authentication in general. A comparison of two authentication mechanisms for public spaces shows that a system that fulfills the criteria outperforms a system with less compliance. We could also show that compliance not only improves the authentication mechanisms themselves, it also allows for detailed comparisons between different systems.