Bars, Badges, and High Scores: On the Impact of Password Strength Visualizations

Maximilian Golla, Björn Hahn, Karsten Meyer zu Selhausen, Henry Hosseini, Markus Dürmuth

Who Are You?! Adventures in Authentication 2018 (WAY '18). Baltimore, MD, USA, August 12, 2018


Strength meters can help users to choose more secure passwords by representing strength via easy to understand textual and visual feedback. Bar-based meters representing strength as a progress supported by color and text are most frequently used. Non-bar meter visualizations are rarely studied and include radars, tachometers, and dancing bunnies. In this work, we consider alternative visualizations based on ideas that users often encounter in their daily lives. We explore gamification and peer-pressure as motivators, and test strength meters using badges and high scores based on a reward system similar to what typical video games offer. For a baseline, we consider a classical bar meter, as well as a control group without any strength meter. To evaluate the impact of these meters on the password strength, we performed a user study with 302 participants and a between-subjects design. Our findings support previous work, as no significant difference in password strength using various meter designs and motivators was found.

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tags: gamification, password strength meter, peer-pressure