Visible to the public Evaluation of the Predictability of Passwords of Computer Engineering Students

TitleEvaluation of the Predictability of Passwords of Computer Engineering Students
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsDal, Deniz, Çelik, Esra
Conference Name2022 3rd International Informatics and Software Engineering Conference (IISEC)
Date Publisheddec
Keywordscomposability, compositionality, computer engineering, Dictionaries, human factors, information and communication technologies, Information security, Libraries, Linux, Linux Operating System Security, Metrics, parallel Bash script, parallel processing, password, passwords, predictability, pubcrawl, resilience, Resiliency, security, serial Bash script, undergraduate students
AbstractAs information and communication technologies evolve every day, so does the use of technology in our daily lives. Along with our increasing dependence on digital information assets, security vulnerabilities are becoming more and more apparent. Passwords are a critical component of secure access to digital systems and applications. They not only prevent unauthorized access to these systems, but also distinguish the users of such systems. Research on password predictability often relies on surveys or leaked data. Therefore, there is a gap in the literature for studies that consider real data in this regard. This study investigates the password security awareness of 161 computer engineering students enrolled in a Linux-based undergraduate course at Ataturk University. The study is conducted in two phases, and in the first phase, 12 dictionaries containing also real student data are formed. In the second phase of the study, a dictionary-based brute-force attack is utilized by means of a serial and parallel version of a Bash script to crack the students' passwords. In this respect, the /etc/shadow file of the Linux system is used as a basis to compare the hashed versions of the guessed passwords. As a result, the passwords of 23 students, accounting for 14% of the entire student group, were cracked. We believe that this is an unacceptably high prediction rate for such a group with high digital literacy. Therefore, due to this important finding of the study, we took immediate action and shared the results of the study with the instructor responsible for administering the information security course that is included in our curriculum and offered in one of the following semesters.
Citation Keydal_evaluation_2022