Brainwaves May Be Used As Passwords, But There's A Catch

Admin | Published 2017-02-06 04:18
According to the findings showed at security conference ShmooCon in Washington, DC, brainwaves can act as passwords when logging on accounts. However, its accuracy may decrease when affected by external factors like alcohol, stress, and other substances that affect the brain. To use brainwave authentication as a biometric measure, the person will confirm his identity with electroencephalogram (EEG) readings.

(c) Brainwave Wizard

For instance, instead of demanding a passcode, a computer could display a series of words on a screen and measure the user’s response via an EEG headset. EEG signatures are almost impossible to hack because they are unique and are more complex than a standard password. Though research suggests that EEG readings can authenticate someone’s identity with accuracy rates around 94 per cent, it can vary due to confounding factors such as, drinking. Researchers Tommy Chin and Peter Muller, agreed to test this theory experimentally, by analyzing people’s brainwaves before and after drinking shots of Fireball, a cinnamon-flavored whisky. Chin is a security researcher at cybersecurity consultancy firm Grimm, and Muller is a graduate student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “Brainwaves can be easily manipulated by external influences such as drugs [like] opioids, caffeine, and alcohol,” Chin said in a statement. “This manipulation makes it a significant challenge to verify the authenticity of the user because they drank an immense amount of alcohol or caffeinated drink.” Results from a small number of tests showed that brainwave authentication accuracy could fall to 33 per cent in inebriated users. John Chuang at the University of California, Berkeley, not involved in the study, suggests that other factors such as hunger, stress or fatigue could also reduce reliability. “Depending on the application, it may be a wonderful feature that a drunk person cannot authenticate into a system after they have had too many drinks,” Chuang told the New Scientist.
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