This program can make your phone more secure than ever

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 8:04am
Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor

With the advent of smartphones came the problem of security technology. With all of the sensitive information stored in the phones—bank account numbers, emails, credit card information—keeping the security tight is of the utmost importance. There are a number of ways that phone companies and app developers have tried to do this, including requiring a password or code to access the start up screen or utilizing a fingerprint scanner. Apps themselves—depending on their application—will have an additional layer of security. For example, Find a Friend—an app that lets you locate certain friends—requires that you sign into the app each time you use it.

But those systems all have the same weakness in that if a person has your password, they can easily access you information. It’s a stagnant system. But what if the phone was able to figure out if an imposter was using your phone based on patterns and habits? It’s an intriguing idea. In fact, researchers at Georgia Tech have devised a system that does just that. LatentGesture, which serves as a backup to traditional passwords, monitors your habits and how you interact with the technology in order to create a unique “signature.” If the system detects any unfamiliar habits, it will lock down the phone.

To test the program, the researchers took 20 participants and gave them paperwork to fill out that required them to tap buttons, check boxes and swipe bars. This information was used to create unique profiles for each person. Then one person was designated as the “owner” and the form was filled out again. The program was found to be 98 percent accurate on Android phones and 97 percent accurate on Android tablets. 

George Tech hasn’t released any specifics about the program, just noting it will run in the background while you go about your day. You can store up to five signatures at a time, so each person in the family will be able to use a device without getting locked out.

I’m a little skeptical about this—it’s in my nature—but I think it has great potential. Everyone interacts with touchscreens in a unique way, so it could definitely be a great back up system.



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