Brainwaves could replace passwords

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Washington | June 03, 2015 3:52 PM

Brainprints, on the other hand, are potentially cancellable. So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorised user, the authorised user could then 'reset' their brainprint: Researcher

passwordThe way human brain responds to certain words could be used to verify a person’s identity, according to a new study which suggests that brainwaves may one day replace passwords. (Reuters)

The way human brain responds to certain words could be used to verify a person’s identity, according to a new study which suggests that brainwaves may one day replace passwords.

Researchers from Binghamton University in the US observed the brain signals of 45 volunteers as they read a list of 75 acronyms, such as FBI and DVD.

They recorded the brain’s reaction to each group of letters, focusing on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognising words, and found that participants’ brains reacted differently to each acronym, enough that a computer system was able to identify each volunteer with 94 per cent accuracy.

According to Sarah Laszlo, assistant professor of psychology and linguistics at Binghamton University, brain biometrics are appealing because they are cancellable and cannot be stolen by malicious means the way a finger or retina can.

“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. Fingerprints are ‘non-cancellable’,” Laszlo said.

“Brainprints, on the other hand, are potentially cancellable. So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorised user, the authorised user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint,” Laszlo said.

The study was published in the journal Neurocomputing.

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