Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) researchers are training devices to recognize their owners by touch, one of several research projects designed to make passwords obsolete.
The research arm of the U.S. Defense Department is looking for ways to use cues such as a person’s typing quirks to continuously verify their identity.
NYU-Poly professor Nasir Memon is leading the touchscreen project, which has found success because every person makes the same gesture uniquely. "If you ask me what is the biggest nuisance today, I would say it’s the 40 different passwords I have to create and change,” Memon says.
His research has found that the most popular gestures for security are the ones that feel the most intuitive, such as turning a combination lock dial 90 degrees or signing your name on a computer screen.
However, Microsoft researcher Cormac Herley says it is too soon to do with away with passwords. "The spectacularly incorrect assumption ‘passwords are dead’ has been harmful, discouraging research on how to improve the lot of close to two billion people who use them,” Herley says. Instead, he says that developers should try “to better support the use of passwords."