Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2016

Full Program »

Life-experience passwords (LEPs)

Passwords are widely used for user authentication, but they are often difficult for a user to recall, easily cracked by automated programs and heavily reused. Security questions are also used for secondary authentication. They are more memorable than passwords, but are very easily guessed.

We propose a new authentication mechanism, called ``life-experience passwords (LEPs),'' which outperforms passwords and security questions, both at recall and at security. Each LEP consists of several facts about a user-chosen past experience, such as a trip, a graduation, a wedding, etc. At LEP creation, the system extracts these facts from the user's input and transforms them into questions and answers. At authentication, the system prompts the user with questions and matches her answers with those stored by the system.

In this paper we propose two LEP designs, and evaluate them via user studies. We further compare LEPs to passwords, and find that: (1) LEPs are 30--47 bits stronger than an ideal, randomized, 8-character password, (2) LEPs are up to 3 times more memorable, and (3) LEPs are reused half as often as passwords. While both LEPs and security questions use personal experiences for authentication, LEPs use several questions, which are closely tailored to each user. This increases LEP security against guessing attacks. In our evaluation, only 0.7% of LEPs were guessed by friends, while prior research found that friends could guess 17--25% of security questions. LEPs also contained a very small amount of sensitive or fake information. All these qualities make LEPs a promising, new authentication approach.


Simon Woo    
United States

Elsi Kaiser    
United States

Ron Artstein    
United States

Jelena Mirkovic    
United States


Powered by OpenConf®
Copyright©2002-2016 Zakon Group LLC