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!
Secure networks for the Internet of the future
25.08.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
New microchip demonstrates efficiency and scalable design
23.08.2016 | Princeton University, Engineering School
Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...
Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.
In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...
Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.
Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...
Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...
A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.
25.08.2016 | Event News
24.08.2016 | Event News
12.08.2016 | Event News
25.08.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.08.2016 | Health and Medicine
25.08.2016 | Information Technology