Comparative Analysis of Three Language Spheres: Are Linguistic and Cultural Differences Reflected in Password Selection Habits?

Keika MORI
Yunao ZHOU
Mitsuaki AKIYAMA
Tatsuya MORI

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E103-D    No.7    pp.1541-1555
Publication Date: 2020/07/01
Publicized: 2020/04/10
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.2019ICP0009
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Information and Communication System Security)
Category: Network and System Security
user authentication,  password security,  cross-cultural analysis,  

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This work aims to determine the propensity of password creation through the lens of language spheres. To this end, we consider four different countries, each with a different culture/language: China/Chinese, United Kingdom (UK) and India/English, and Japan/Japanese. We first employ a user study to verify whether language and culture are reflected in password creation. We found that users in India, Japan, and the UK prefer to create their passwords from base words, and the kinds of words they are incorporated into passwords vary between countries. We then test whether the findings obtained through the user study are reflected in a corpus of leaked passwords. We found that users in China and Japan prefer dates, while users in India, Japan, and the UK prefer names. We also found that cultural words (e.g., “sakura” in Japan and “football” in the UK) are frequently used to create passwords. Finally, we demonstrate that the knowledge on the linguistic background of targeted users can be exploited to increase the speed of the password guessing process.