Passwords are a nuisance. Pin codes are a nuisance. Any type of code that you have to memorize in order to get access to a service is a major nuisance. Forget them, or type them incorrectly just a few different times, and you get locked out. It’s no fun whatsoever.
Use complex passwords that mix lowercase letters with uppercase letters, numbers and symbols, and you will most likely forget the exact same password that you chose.
Due to commodity, many people decide to use the same password for all or several of their accounts, which in turn leaves them more vulnerable to hacker attacks. Not only that, but statistically speaking the word “password” has been found to be the most come password that people register their accounts with.
But researchers at the Binghamton University in New York City give us reason to be optimistic and hope for a better future. They recently published a study called “Brainprint” in the journal Neurocomputing, showing that our computers can identify us based on how each of our brains react to a certain set of words.
They called it a fingerprint of sorts and are hopeful that the technology will one day replace the need for passwords.
In order to prove their hypothesis, the team from Binghamton University conducted an experiment. They attached electrons to the scalps of forty-five (45) different volunteers and analyzed their brain waves as they were being read a list of seventy-five (75) acronyms such as FBI or DVD. The main focus was on the part of the brain that we associate with reading and recognizing words.
Each of the participants’ brain had such a radically different reaction to the words that a computer program was able to identify every single one of them with an accuracy of ninety-four percent (94%). These reactions are referred to as “brainprints”.
Further tests showed that the results last long-term as the participants were identified accurately yet again, six (6) months later.
Sarah Laszlo, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology and linguistics at Binghamton University, gave a statement informing that brain biometrics hold several advantages over other characteristics that have been used for biometrics. Fingerprints and eye retinas are physical items that can be easily copied and stolen, causing several major problems as they are not “items” that can be replaced.
Professor Laszlo said that “If someone’s fingerprint is stolen, that person can’t just grow a new finger to replace the compromised fingerprint – the fingerprint for that person is compromised forever”.
She explained that while fingerprints are non-cancellable, brainprints could not only theoretically be canceled in case of a theft, but it is also highly unlikely that they could be stolen in the first place. The person would simply “reset” their brainprint after an unfortunate event that rendered them vulnerable to attacks.
Zhanpeng Jin, assistant professor at Binghamton University’s department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and department of Biomedical Engineering, shared a few thoughts of his own, saying that the team did not envision the technology for low-security applications, such as email, but rather for high-security physical locations, such as the Pentagon or the Air Force Labs.
Image Source: Science Daily