Carnegie Mellon University
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Smartphone Fingerprint Authentication versus PINs: A Usability Study (CMU-CyLab-14-012)

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posted on 2014-07-31, 00:00 authored by Shri Karthikeyan, Sophia Feng, Ashwini Rao, Norman Sadeh

Today's smartphones store a variety of sensitive information and provide access to sensitive functionality. Despite an abundance of features to secure one's phone, many users leave their devices unprotected putting themselves and their organizations at risk. Over the past year, several vendors have started to ffer fingerprinting functionality in an effort to increase the number of people who protect their phones. We present the results of a study conducted to determine whether fingerprint-based authentication functionality is likely to gain greater levels of adoption that today's PIN-based solutions. Our study utilizes a task-based method in which participants complete a set of ten tasks. The study compares the usability of Apple's iPhone 5S Touch ID fingerprint-based authentication with more traditional PIN-based authentication. Our results suggest that, from a usability standpoint, fingerprint-based authentication is better than PIN-based authentication and could contribute to reduce the dismal number of people who do not have locking functionality in place to protect access to their phones.




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