Rutgers engineering researchers explore the security and memorability of free-form gestures as passwords
As more people use smart phones or tablets to pay bills, make purchases, store personal information and even control access to their houses, the need for robust password security has become more critical than ever.
Researchers studied the practicality of using free-form gestures for access authentication on smart phones and tablets. With the ability to create any shape in any size and location on the screen, the gestures had an inherent appeal as passwords. Since users create them without following a template, the researchers predicted these gestures would allow for greater complexity than grid-based gestures offer.
Credit: Michael Sherman, Gradeigh Clark, Yulong Yang, Shridatt Sugrim, Arttu Modig, Janne Lindqvist, Antti Oulasvirta, and Teemu Roos; Rutgers University, Max-Planck Institute for Informatics and University of Helsinki.
A new Rutgers University study shows that free-form gestures – sweeping fingers in shapes across the screen of a smart phone or tablet – can be used to unlock phones and grant access to apps. These gestures are less likely than traditional typed passwords or newer "connect-the-dots" grid exercises to be observed and reproduced by "shoulder surfers" who spy on users to gain unauthorized access.
"All it takes to steal a password is a quick eye," said Janne Lindqvist, one of the leaders of the project and an assistant professor in the School of Engineering's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "With all the personal and transactional information we have on our phones today, improved mobile security is becoming increasingly critical."
Lindqvist believes this is the first study to explore free-form gestures as passwords. The researchers will publish their findings in June as part of the proceedings of MobiSys '14, a premier international conference in mobile computing.
In developing a secure solution to this problem, Lindqvist and the other researchers from Rutgers and collaborators from Max-Planck Institute for Informatics, including Antti Oulasvirta, and University of Helsinki studied the practicality of using free-form gestures for access authentication. With the ability to create any shape in any size and location on the screen, the gestures had an inherent appeal as passwords. Since users create them without following a template, the researchers predicted these gestures would allow for greater complexity than grid-based gestures offer.
"You can create any shape, using any number of fingers, and in any size or location on the screen," Lindqvist said. "We saw that this security protection option was clearly missing in the scientific literature and also in practice, so we decided to test its potential."
To do so, the researchers applied a generate-test-retest paradigm where 63 participants were asked to create a gesture, recall it, and recall it again 10 days later. The gestures were captured on a recognizer system designed by the team. Using this data, the authors tested the memorability of free-form gestures and invented a novel method to measure the complexity and accuracy of each gesture using information theory. Their analysis demonstrated results favorable to user-generated, free-form gestures as passwords.
To put their analysis to practice, the Rutgers researchers then had seven computer science and engineering students, each with considerable experience with touchscreens, attempt to steal a free-form gesture password by shoulder surfing.
None of the participants were able to replicate the gestures with enough accuracy, so while testing is in its preliminary stages, the gestures appear extremely powerful against attacks. While widespread adaptation of this technology is not yet clear, the research team plans to continue to analyze the security and management of free-form passwords in the future.
Diane Reed | Eurek Alert!
'Magic' sphere for information transfer
24.08.2015 | Lomonosov Moscow State University
Fraunhofer IPA develops prototype of intelligent care cart
20.08.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA
A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...
A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...
In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.
These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...
Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.
For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...
It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.
Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...
20.08.2015 | Event News
20.08.2015 | Event News
19.08.2015 | Event News
28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine
28.08.2015 | Life Sciences