LatentGesture uses personal touch signatures to secure devices

LatentGesture uses personal touch signatures to secure devices
Now you can secure your tablet or smartphone beyond a regular old password or a swipe gesture!

Scientists have developed a new security system that continuously monitors how a user taps and swipes a mobile device, providing a personal touch signature to secure your gadgets.

In case the movements do not match the owner's tendencies, the system recognises the differences and can be programmed to lock the device.

Passwords, gestures and fingerprint scans are all helpful ways to keep a thief from unlocking and using a cell phone or tablet, researchers said.

But now, cyber-security researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have gone a step further.

The new system is called LatentGesture and was used during a lab study using Android devices. The system was nearly 98 percent accurate on a smartphone and 97 percent correct on tablets.

"The system learns a person's "touch signature," then constantly compares it to how the current user is interacting with the device," said Polo Chau, a Georgia Tech College of Computing assistant professor who led the study.

To test the system, Chau and his team set up an electronic form with a list of tasks for 20 participants. They were asked to tap buttons, check boxes and swipe slider bars on a phone and tablet to fill out the form.

The system tracked their tendencies and created a profile for each person.

After profiles were stored, the researchers designated one person's signature as the "owner" of the device and repeated the tests.

LatentGesture successfully matched the owner and flagged everyone else as unauthorised users.

"Just like your fingerprint, everyone is unique when they use a touchscreen," said Chau.

"Some people slide the bar with one quick swipe. Others gradually move it across the screen. Everyone taps the screen with different pressures while checking boxes," said Chau.

Researchers also programmed the system to store five touch signatures on the same device - one "owner" and four authorised users. When someone other than the owner used the tablet, the system identified each with 98 percent accuracy.

"This feature could be used when a child uses her dad's tablet," said College of Computing sophomore Premkumar Saravanan.

"The system would recognise her touch signature and allow her to use the device. But if she tried to buy an app, the system could prevent it," said Saravanan.

Researchers say LatentGesture's biggest advantage is that the system is constantly running in the background. The user doesn't have to do anything different for added security and authentication.

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