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USENIX Security '21 - Why Older Adults (Don't) Use Password Managers


USENIX Security '21 - Why Older Adults (Don't) Use Password Managers
Hirak Ray, Flynn Wolf, and Ravi Kuber, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Adam J. Aviv, The George Washington University
Password managers (PMs) are considered highly effective tools for increasing security, and a recent study by Pearman et al. (SOUPS '19) highlighted the motivations and barriers to adopting PMs. We expand these findings by replicating Pearman et al.'s protocol and interview instrument applied to a sample of strictly older adults (more than 60 years of age), as the prior work focused on a predominantly younger cohort. We conducted n=26 semi-structured interviews with PM users, built-in browser/operating system PM users, and non-PM users. The average participant age was 70.4 years. Using the same codebook from Pearman et al., we showcase differences and similarities in PM adoption between the samples, including fears of a single point of failure and the importance of having control over one's private information. Meanwhile, older adults were found to have higher mistrust of cloud storage of passwords and cross-device synchronization. We also highlight PM adoption motivators for older adults, including the power of recommendations from family members and the importance of education and outreach to improve familiarity.
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