Google ring to provide one hardware password to rule them all
Clever security: obscuring password entry with dummy cursors
You can unlock your phone with a touch and log into your computer with a gaze. A new authentication system can use your body in a whole new way.
It’s potentially much more secure, too. Researchers at the University of Washington didn’t develop a new kind of biometric. Instead, they figured out how to use the human body as a secure network to transmit authentication tokens.
The body is an excellent conductor. Electrical currents love to flow through your body, and if you’ve ever held hands with your friends while they touched a Van De Graaff generator you know that all too well. It makes sense, then, that those currents can be manipulated to transmit data right through your very being — and that’s precisely what Mehrdad Hessar, Wikram Iyer, and Shyamnath Gollakota did.
Their goal was to come up with a way to securely pair sensitive devices — such as medical implants — or transmit credentials to things like door locks and computers without relying on radio signals. Why? Because as we’ve repeatedly seen over the past couple of years, radio signals are just too damned easy to intercept… and it seems like it’s getting easier all the time.
Amazingly enough, the UW team’s setup didn’t require the use of any specialized hardware. Signals were generated by ordinary touchpads and fingerprint scanners. Those signals were received by a wrist cuff that they lined with copper tape that fed into the SDR (software defined radio) from a repurposed TV tuner board.
Turns out your body makes a pretty decent data bus
Regardless of where the receiver was worn, the signals came through nice and clear. Outside interference from Bluetooth, Wifi, and cellular radios didn’t impact performance either.
So what happens next? Hopefully, the right people will take notice, and this clever approach will quickly move from a research project to widely-adopted method to securely transmit credentials to the innumerable devices we come into contact with every day.