Password masking – the debate begins (Reflections on Jakob Nielsen)

Jakob Nielsen is a highly regarded usability expert. His recent Alertbox article (I’m sure he wouldn’t want to call it a blog post) entitled Stop Password Masking, is certainly going to cause a stir in the web community. He proposes that masked passwords (when you type in a password field on the web it only shows bullets or asterisks), are essentially not user-friendly. I for one do not see the web community suddenly abandoning masked password fields. There’s a familiarity with them, they’re like PIN numbers on ATM cash machines.