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New technology verifies device users by how they use the touchscreen

Researches at Georgia Tech have developed a security system that recognizes and distinguishes a mobile device user from other people based on patterns, pressure and speed when swiping and tapping touch screens. Successful implementation would provide extra protection against device theft and preventing access to banking, email and other apps or accounts.

With weak 4 digit PIN codes and other smartphone and tablet lock mechanisms, it is often not difficult for someone to make their way into a device, but imitating someone else’s speed and pressure on the screen is much more difficult. The new behavior-based system is called LatentGesture and was developed by the Georgia Tech College of Computing. The researches named the profile of how a user swipes and measurement of pressure using touch screens the “Touch Signature.” In a study using Android devices the system was 98 percent accurate when used on smartphones and 97 percent accurate on tablets.

LatentGesture constantly monitors usage patterns and continuously compares this to how the current user is interacting with the device. Even if a device requires a biometric fingerprint reading to unlock it, people leave phones on bars and tables right after using it and before it auto-locks. If someone else tries to access personal or financial information on the device they can still be stopped by recognizing differences in how they use the touchscreen.

This provides a new way of performing physical verification that a user is the true device owner in addition to recognizing the device. The system can be useful in protecting banking via mobile apps or mobile web browsers, mobile wallets, merchant apps with stored billing data, email accounts and other sensitive information. It could also be useful for when children use a device to play games, but should not be allowed to make in-app purchases.

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