CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Yair Levy

Committee Member

Steven M Furnell

Committee Member

Saeed Rajput

Abstract

Organizations continue to rely on password-based authentication methods to control access to many Web-based systems. This research study developed a benchmarking instrument intended to assess authentication methods used in Web-based information systems (IS). It developed an Authentication Method System Index (AMSI) to analyze collected data from representative samples of e-learning systems in the U.S. and from healthcare ISs, also in the U.S. This data were used to compare authentication methods used by those systems. The AMSI measured 1) password strength requirements, 2) password usage methods, and 3) password reset requirements. Those measures were combined into the single index that represents the current authentication methods. This study revealed that there is no significant difference in the ways that authentication methods are employed between the two groups of ISs.

This research validated the criteria proposed for the AMSI using a panel of experts drawn from industry and academia. Simultaneously, the same panel provided preferences for the relative weight of specific criteria within some measures. The panel of experts also assessed the relative weight of each measure within the AMSI. Once the criteria were verified and the elicited weights were computed, an opportunity sample of Web-based ISs in the two groups identified earlier were assessed to ascertain the values for the criteria that comprise the AMSI. After completion of pre-analysis data screening, the collected data were assessed using the results of the AMSI benchmarking tool. Results of the comparison within and between the two sample groups are presented.

This research found that the AMSI can be used as a mechanism to measure some aspects of the authentication methods used by Web-based systems. There was no measurable significance in the differences between the samples groups. However, IS designers, quality assurance teams, and information security practitioners charged with validating ISs methods may choose to use it to measure the effectiveness of such authentication methods. This can enable continuous improvement of authentication methods employed in such Web-based systems.

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