A Field Study of User Behavior and Perceptions in Smartcard Authentication

  • Celeste Lyn Paul
  • Emile Morse
  • Aiping Zhang
  • Yee-Yin Choong
  • Mary Theofanos
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6949)


A field study of 24 participants over 10 weeks explored user behavior and perceptions in a smartcard authentication system. Ethnographic methods used to collect data included diaries, surveys, interviews, and field observations. We observed a number of issues users experienced while they integrated smartcards into their work processes, including forgetting smartcards in readers, forgetting to use smartcards to authenticate, and difficulty understanding digital signatures and encryption. The greatest perceived benefit was the use of an easy-to-remember PIN in replacement of complicated passwords. The greatest perceived drawback was the lack of smartcard-supported applications. Overall, most participants had a positive experience using smartcards for authentication. Perceptions were influenced by personal benefits experienced by participants rather than an increase in security.


Human factors multi-factor authentication security smartcard 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Celeste Lyn Paul
    • 1
  • Emile Morse
    • 2
  • Aiping Zhang
    • 2
  • Yee-Yin Choong
    • 2
  • Mary Theofanos
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUnited States
  2. 2.National Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUnited States

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