An empirical analysis of keystroke dynamics in passwords: a longitudinal study

Simon Parkinson, Saad Khan, Alexandru-Mihai Badea, Andrew Crampton, Paloma Liu, Qing Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The use of keystroke timings as a behavioural biometric in fixed-text authentication mechanisms has been extensively studied. Previous research has investigated in isolation the effect of password length, character substitution, and participant repetition. These studies have used publicly available datasets, containing a small number of passwords with timings acquired from different experiments. Multiple experiments have also used the participant's first and last name as the password; however, this is not realistic of a password system. Not only is the user's name considered a weak password, but their familiarity with typing the phrase minimises variation in acquired samples as they become more familiar with the new password. Furthermore, no study has considered the combined impact of length, substitution, and repetition using the same participant pool. This is explored in this work, where the authors collected timings for 65 participants, when typing 40 passwords with varying characteristics, 4 times per week for 8 weeks. A total of 81,920 timing samples were processed using an instance-based distance and threshold matching approach. Results of this study provide empirical insight into how a password policy should be created to maximise the accuracy of the biometric system when considering substitution type and longitudinal effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalIET Biometrics
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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