Explore-a-Nation: Combining Graphical and Alphanumeric Authentication

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11594)


Graphical authentication has been a proposed solution to the usability and memorability issues seen with traditional alphanumeric passwords. However, graphical authentication schemes are often criticized for their susceptibility to Over-the-Shoulder Attacks (OSAs). This research proposes and evaluates Explore-a-Nation (EaN), a unique hybrid authentication scheme that attempts to bridge the gap between graphical authentication passcodes and strong alphanumeric passwords. EaN takes advantage of the known security and efficiency associated with passwords along with the enhanced recognition benefit of graphical schemes. The EaN scheme provides users with a static image consisting of a map wherein an icon passcode path is hidden amongst other distractor icons. Following the icon path allows users to generate their strong password. This study compared our EaN prototype to alphanumeric password standards and to Use Your Illusion (UYI) across the dimensions of efficiency, accuracy, OSA resistance, and subjective usability. User login times for both EaN and UYI met the efficiency usability standards established by alphanumeric passwords. Results for UYI (99%) login accuracy were significantly better than EaN (91%). And, UYI obtained a significantly higher Subjective Usability Survey score than EaN, with both schemes exceeding our usability requirement. Notably, EaN was shown to be resistant to OSAs while UYI was not. We suggest EaN might prove to be an effective next-generation authentication scheme for both frequent and intermittent users.


Cybersecurity Graphical authentication Alphanumeric authentication Over-the-Shoulder Attack 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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