Correct Horse Battery Staple: Exploring the Usability of System-Assigned Passphrases

Users tend to create passwords that are easy to guess, while system-assigned passwords tend to be hard to remember. Passphrases, space-delimited sets of natural language words, have been suggested as both secure and usable for decades. In a 1,476-participant online study, the authors explored the usability of 3- and 4-word system-assigned passphrases in comparison to system-assigned passwords composed of 5 to 6 random characters, and 8-character system-assigned pronounceable passwords. Contrary to expectations, system-assigned passphrases performed similarly to system-assigned passwords of similar entropy across the usability metrics they examined.

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Association for Computing Machinery