Why are passwords so hard to remember and how can we make them better?

Passwords are painful - everyone hates them. We are told the ‘good ones’ are made of jumbled up meaningless characters found on a computer keyboard - the ones that are so hard to remember, you end up writing down on a piece of paper and hiding it in your drawer. But what if we could make passwords up to 10 times easier to remember? Read on to find out how...

Research has shown that passwords don’t have to be so painful. By discovering how we remember things, we can develop better passwords to help us recollect a secret using our natural abilities. [1]

To remember things such as a password, we use our recognition memory to recollect the previous event of sequencing a series of characters we assembled to make a password.

Although it is accepted that our temporal lobes hold memory, studies have shown that the occipital lobe, responsible for vision and visualising scenes, is highly engaged during the recollection of words and images. It is understood that the occipital lobe is used to detect visual patterns to assist in the recollection process.

This implies that our brain uses visualisation to recollect a password. If a strong password is considered to be a sequence of 10 characters, the visualisation effort is not just tenfold, but exponentially more difficult due to the requirement to sequence the visualisations in order.

A good example is the way a skilled musician almost instantly recognises a chord consisting of a collection of notes; whereas if he or she had to ‘read’ each note separately, it would prove impossible to play sections of music fluently.

Shayype can be classified as a brain-friendly, pattern-based authentication method. This means the user remembers a secret based on a shape or pattern, as opposed to a secret based on a sequence of individual characters (i.e. a fixed password). Using the premise that the human brain is better equipped to recollect visual shapes and patterns, Shayype uses these strengths to allow the user to create a secret as strong as a 10-character password, but with no more effort than it takes to remember a single character.

Put another way, like the musical chord, a pattern or shape, may be seen as a single entity, whereas a multiple-character ‘string’ made up of separate items requires each character to be fetched from memory, which is likely to be far more taxing for the user.

Shayype is the only known alternative to passwords that makes better use of your visual recognition memory and yet doesn’t reveal your secret. Of course, there are many other reasons why you should consider Shayype. Complete the contact form below and we’ll send you a white paper with a detailed specification.

References:

[1] Orme, Brown, Riby : Retrieval and Monitoring Processes during Visual Working Memory: An ERP Study of the Benefit of Visual Semantics. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01080