We've seen it in the movies. A spy or important government agent uses a pre-determined authentication word to not only prove who they are, but also that they are in danger.

I have not seen it implemented directly in any of the big day to day OSes we (the consumer public) use: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry.

I have found an instance of home security systems that have a duress code that will send a signal to the police, but I'm more interested in personal computer or mobile applications.

Does this technique get used in the real world? Are there particular OSes that support a duress code? Could I add this feature to any of my devices through third party software?

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    you need to define your scope for the "duress code"
    – schroeder
    Oct 13, 2015 at 15:18
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    I'm open to systems that have unique ways to define duress code. But if a definition is required, I would think that a system or maybe a website would have two passwords for a user: a normal password exactly like the passwords we use today, and a duress password that meets all requirements for a regular password (except it must be different from the normal password) that when used to log into the account would trigger some sort of event like a script, a lockdown, a signal to a third party, etc. Oct 13, 2015 at 15:28
  • Like, for a contrived example maybe there's a duress password for ATMs that when used would behave like a successful PIN but would report insufficient funds so a user at gunpoint couldn't withdraw the money that is in the account. It could also alert the authorities. Oct 13, 2015 at 15:31
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    It absolutely seems in the territory of protecting data. Either through showing alternate, wrong data or through capturing a perpetrator who is after the data. These ends are reached through a system design that could protect the user and/or the data. Alternative measures might be taken but those are usually because the system isn't designed with this security feature in mind. Oct 13, 2015 at 15:57
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    @schroeder Whether you think this is an operational issue, or design issue, it's still an information security question. I could easily see it integrated into operating systems, though it might be a rather narrow user base that would need such a feature. Oct 13, 2015 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


TrueCrypt supported a duress password which would appear to decrypt the system, but not allow access to the true data, which they called "deniable encryption".

It's been discussed here on security.SE: Plausible deniability with TrueCrypt , Truly deniable encryption

  • "Plausible deniability" is a very good concept Nov 2, 2018 at 16:09

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