Can graphical passwords ever replace traditional ones?

Since humans are better suited for pattern and image recognition than the alphabet, why not use this knowledge in how passwords are designed?

Being a mix of letters, punctuation, symbols and numbers, passwords do not play to human strengths. When ASCII terminals were our daily reality, using them as means of shielding one’s private data made sense, but can the same be said for the graphically-rich mobile devices of today?

Instead, the human password could be a group of pictures telling a meaningful story. For example, when unlocking your smart device, you would be greeted by a screen consisting of graphical icons, which you would then sort in place in order to be granted access to it.

One thing that speaks in favour of this is the fact that pattern-based authentication is a faster cybersecurity measure than PINs. However, it has a major weakness; namely, the vulnerability to smudge attacks, where the trail of finger grease on the screen would suggest the proper way to drag these icons.

To combat this, the initial location of the icons could be randomised; however, this would come at the cost of the speed advantage that these kinds of authentication systems allow for.

Since people love to memorise things through stories, researchers have been investigating the topic of graphical passwords for more than a decade. They have also found that pattern authentication is associated with the fastest logins, however, PIN-based authentication has the lowest error rate.