IFIP SEC 2018, Abstract of the talk

The Influence of Native Language on Password Composition and Security: A Socioculture Theoretical View

Pardon Blessings Maoneke, Stephen Flowerday and Naomi Isabirye
University of Fort Hare, Information Systems Department, East London, South Africa

Abstract. This study investigates the influence of native languages on password composition and security. The socioculture theory’s psychological development principles were used to argue the influence of language on passwords. 107 Namibian and South African university students were asked to generate a new pass- word for the study using a web based experiment. Levenshtein’s edit distance, language experts and a password guessing algorithm were used for data analysis. Results showed that users generated passwords that were oriented towards both English and native languages. English is the first language of instruction while native languages are typically the first spoken languages of the participants. These passwords were based on names and words. A difference in character distribution confirmed the disparity in character preferences among researched groups. These findings suggest the influence of psychological development according to the socioculture theory. Password guessing shows that English oriented passwords are weaker than those oriented in native languages. The study shows that choices of password generation policy design should be informed by contextual factors if they are to be effective.

Keywords: passwords, password characteristics, socioculture theory, native language, security.

The paper published in the IFIP SEC 2018 confeence proceedings by Springer Verlag