How the future of security could be you
Some device has the biometric security debate by including a fingerprint scanner. However, the possibilities for authenticating our devices using our bodies goes much further than our fingers. Forget fingerprints; password; what about smartphones that measure how hands “shake” when slicking icons; keyboards that analyse the speed and style of your typing; and wearable computer that track the way you walk and the pattern of your heartbeat? All of above are being researched and developed right now – which is not as surprising as it may seem. The top – and smartphones in our pockets are already highly sophisticated sensor cluster containing accelerometers, gyroscope, compasses, thermometers, GPS unit and biometric readers. In this feature, we reveal how these “measurement of me” authentication systems work, when we are likely to be able to use them and whether they really do offer greater security then your existing password.
Unique human behaviours
Thanks biometrics, and chances are you will picture fingerprints. If you are more imaginative – or up on your security reading – you may also think of facial or iris recognition. However, biometrics has moved on from these relatively simplistic measures of an individual, and can therefore be used as a method of authentication within the security sphere. There are many unique behaviours that can be monitored and together build up a bio signature that is impossible to torque – think in terms of your gait as you walk, the pressure you expert when you top or swipe a touchscreen, or even the routines you follow in typical day. While such authentication alternatives sound advanced, they must prove their matter against the oft-abused but ubiquitous password to ever become widely used. Since people touch their smartphones differently depending on the app they are using, both touch and “reaction” are measured. To measure the “reaction”, the researchers looked at the position of the device and the different amplitudes of vibration caused by each touch. These patterns can be readily observed by accessing the accelerometer and gyroscope build in to a smartphone.
Creatures of habit
Smartphones make collecting such data easy, thanks to GPS and mapping. We are mostly creatures of habit: we tend to follow the same route to work every day, stopping at the same coffee shop; once we are in the office, we stay in one broadly defined area until lunchtime, and so on. Collecting data on such pattern provides a model of a user’s behaviour, but also raises questions of privacy.
The end of password
Most people are happy using single – factor authentication, but reliance upon password along cannot continue if we want our data to be safeguarded in an environment that is increasingly under the criminal microscope. For now, two – factor authentication seems a good balance of security, distribution cost and ease of use, but it still has weaknesses. Ease of use has always been the primary driver for PINs and password since security measures are useless if nobody employs them because they are too difficult or time – consuming. The problem is that the number of services we use and the complexity of password required to secure them has increased to point of insanity.