People who struggle to remember passwords and personal identification numbers will draw pictures on a screen instead, scientists said yesterday.
New software has been developed for the latest mobile phones and handheld computers which uses pictures instead of letters and numbers for security codes.
The idea could be expanded into other areas, as the images will be harder than text passwords to copy by fraudsters, and easier to remember.
Researchers at Newcastle University are also researching if using pictures will also be easier for people with language difficulties such as dyslexia.
The ‘graphical passwords’ are drawn over a background, such as a photo of a flower, a map, a playing card or the night sky.
The computer remembers the number of ‘pen’ strokes used, where the image was started and the order in which they were made.
The system allows users to create passwords which are much more complex than the traditional numeric or alphabetical versions.
Dr Jeff Yan, a computer science lecturer, and PhD student Paul Dunphy have developed emerging Draw a Secret (DAS) technology and applied it to a background image.
The improved software is known as BDAS – Background Draw a Secret – which makes it easier for the user to remember where to start drawing on the screen.
Difficult to remember
Dr Yan said: ‘Many people find it difficult to remember a password so choose words that are easy to remember and therefore more susceptible to hackers.
‘Most of us have forgotten a pin number or a password at least once, which is why we tend to make them so easy to guess.
‘However, the human mind has a much greater capacity for remembering images, and it’s certainly true that a picture is worth a thousand words in this instance.’
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