UVic engineers have patented a system that can create user profile by how someone uses a keyboard and mouse. The technology has drawn sharp interest from national governments.

Reading the rhythms of your keyboard

A new biometric technology makes it possible to identify the person behind the monitor based on keystroke habits and mouse movements alone.

Crumbs in the keyboard or questionable web browsing history aren’t the only ways to tell who’s been using your computer. A newly patented biometric technology makes it possible to identify the person at the monitor based on keystroke habits and mouse movements alone.

Potential for the technology, developed over the last 12 years by Issa Traore, University of Victoria professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering and his former PhD student Ahmed Ahmed, reaches well beyond the realm of surveilling a home office. The security of Internet banking, military communications and online testing stand to be revolutionized through the technology.

It works by capturing and profiling user rhythms on the keyboard and mouse. This profile is then used to lock out any other users from that account or computer.

When applied to password logins, the security protocol can identify users within five or six seconds based on how they type in their password. Even if someone else types in your password, its unlikely they could match the subtle differences in keystroke timing and behaviour.

It can also be set to continuously monitor a computer between login and logout – an application that requires about three to seven minutes of computer use, depending on how many keystrokes or mouse movements are made.

In the event an intended user is called away from a work station and another user attempts to use the computer, the technology will immediately recognize an unintended user and lock them out.

Biometric technology, which compares physical or behavioral traits to a database, includes fingerprint, facial or retinal scans – methods of identification which can be flawed by a person’s physical, rather than behavioural changes.

“Instead of a more traditional biometric system, like retinal or fingerprint recognition, that requires expensive hardware and is limited by users only being able to access the network from a specific computer, our system can be used by anyone from any location,” Traore said.

The system could solve the problem for universities of verifying student identification for high-level exams.

“This is also very accurate way of ensuring a student (taking an online exam) hasn’t given their password to someone else to take the exam, because right now we don’t have any other way to do that,” he said.

In addition to development via 200 users at UVic, Traore tested the technology with software installed on his own home computer, where his 15-year-old son was recently locked out after he attempted to login under another family member’s unrestricted user account.

The system has logged a 98 per cent success rate at UVic on a standard keyboard and mouse. Traore said they are working to adapt the technology to touch screens and tablet computers.

“This technology has the potential to solve a big problem and that problem is identity theft … and hacking,” said Chris Flores, industry liaison officer for UVic Industry Partnerships, an arm’s length branch of the university devoted to helping protect intellectual properties or new innovations developed on campus.

Flores assisted Traore and Ahmed in forming Plurilock Security Solutions Inc. after Traore approached UVic Industry Partnerships in 2004.

“(Plurilock) is pioneering the concept of continuous authentication technology,” Flores noted.

The technology was U.S. patent approved earlier this month, while a Canada patent remains pending.

Already it has sparked global interest from a range of investors, including Brazilian post-secondary institutions interested in online testing, and the government of Canada, where it is being considered for use in the fields of law enforcement and health care. A Japanese telecommunications company was one of Plurilock’s first clients.

Traore hopes next to apply the innovation to tightening Internet banking security.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Saanich council will consider tax reduction scenarios for 2020 budget

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau however warns of cutting additional funding for capital expenditures

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of Saanich couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

West Shore RCMP arrest man in stolen vehicle, seize handgun

Vehicle was reported stolen from Duncan on July 18

Victoria Police issue warning after man left dangling from raised Johnson Street Bridge

A man bypassed safety measures and became stranded as the bridge lifted

Premier John Horgan hints at daylight saving changes after record-breaking survey response

B.C.’s largest public consultation saw more than 220,000 residents respond to time change survey

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Tubing world record broken on Vancouver Island

But record for length of tubes linked together still has to be confirmed

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Most Read