A Research Agenda Acknowledging the Persistence of Passwords

IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine |

Despite countless attempts and near-universal desire to replace them, passwords are more widely used and firmly entrenched than ever. Our exploration of this leads us to argue that no silver bullet will meet all requirements, and not only will passwords be with us for some time, but in many instances they are the solution which best fits the scenario of use. Among broad authentication research directions to follow, we first suggest better means to concretely identify actual requirements (surprisingly overlooked to date) and weight their relative importance in target scenarios; this will support approaches aiming to identify best-fit mechanisms in light of requirements. Second, for scenarios where indeed passwords appear to be the best-fit solution, we suggest designing better means to support passwords themselves. We highlight the need for more systematic research, and how the premature conclusion that passwords are dead has lead to the neglect of important research questions.