University of Twente Student Theses


Protect your password so it can protect you : improving password strength through coping messages

Simon, J. (2022) Protect your password so it can protect you : improving password strength through coping messages.

[img] PDF
Abstract:Users not adhering to password guidelines marks a persistent drawback in the fight against cyberattacks. Regardless of password composition policies promoting safer passwords choices, many users work around these requirements and still use easy-to-guess passwords. Inspired by Protection Motivation Theory, this experimental study was set up to understand the impact of three coping messages (i.e., self-efficacy, response efficacy, and self-efficacy and response efficacy combined) to improve password composition, increasing password security intentions and subsequent protective behaviour. Specifically, participants were asked to generate passwords during the study, and the resulting password quality was evaluated based on several password characteristics. Participants also reported their behavioural intentions to create strong passwords after the intervention, and I assessed whether the intention translated into behaviour after four weeks. I found that participants who were reminded of the effectiveness of strong passwords (i.e., response efficacy message) created significantly stronger passwords than those in the other coping message conditions and those who did not receive a coping message. Furthermore, the intention to adopt strong passwords was elevated for participants in all coping message conditions compared to those who did not receive a coping message – but significantly more so in the combined condition. However, the intention did not result in protective behaviour after four weeks. Thus, enhancing users sense of the effectiveness of robust passwords can change immediate password choices. However, many users who express an intention to adopt strong passwords fail to do so. I highlight the need for research into interventions that help people translate intentions into behaviour.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
Link to this item:
Export this item as:BibTeX
HTML Citation
Reference Manager


Repository Staff Only: item control page