Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ahamed, Sheikh I.

Second Advisor

Merrill, Stephen

Third Advisor

Madiraju, Praveen


Authentication is the process of validating the identity of an entity, e.g., a person, a machine, etc.; the entity usually provides a proof of identity in order to be authenticated. When the entity - to be authenticated - is a human, the authentication process is called end-user authentication. Making an end-user authentication usable entails making it easy for a human to obtain, manage, and input the proof of identity in a secure manner. In machine-to-machine authentication, both ends have comparable memory and computational power to securely carry out the authentication process using cryptographic primitives and protocols. On the contrary, as a human has limited memory and computational power, in end-user authentication, cryptography is of little use. Although password based end-user authentication has many well-known security and usability problems, it is the de facto standard. Almost half a century of research effort has produced a multitude of end-user authentication methods more sophisticated than passwords; yet, none has come close to replacing passwords. In this dissertation, taking advantage of the built-in sensing capability of smartphones, we propose an end-user authentication framework for smartphones - called ePet - which does not require any active participation from the user most of the times; thus the proposed framework is highly usable. Using data collected from subjects, we validate a part of the authentication framework for the Android platform. For web authentication, in this dissertation, we propose a novel password creation interface, which helps a user remember a newly created password with more confidence - by allowing her to perform various memory tasks built upon her new password. Declarative and motor memory help the user remember and efficiently input a password. From a within-subjects study we show that declarative memory is sufficient for passwords; motor memory mostly facilitate the input process and thus the memory tasks have been designed to help cement the declarative memory for a newly created password. This dissertation concludes with an evaluation of the increased usability of the proposed interface through a between-subjects study.