Revolution in safety: brain potentials instead of passwords

Fingerprints and iris scans – yesterday. The password can be your electroencephalogram.

No matter how unique biometric data are – devices protected by a biometric password are not so difficult to crack. The iris scanner can be deceived with the help of contact lenses, the fingerprint scanner – thanks to the photos of the finger, and even “put on” someone else’s face hackers have already learned. Therefore, scientists from the University of New York State decided to use human reaction passwords.

To be precise, the evoked potentials of the brain will be used as the password. These are the waves that it emits in response to an external stimulus – for example, text or image. These potentials are unique for each person, and besides – unconscious. Therefore, it is impossible to forge them.

To test the possibility of creating a “brain password”, scientists conducted an experiment. 179 volunteers were shown sets of three pictures of different types: an animal image, a celebrity photo and a short phrase. The cycle of displaying three pictures took a little more than a second. This cycle was repeated four times, after which the evoked potential was recorded as a password. The whole procedure took no more than 5 seconds.

Also a new type of password was tested for resistance to burglary and durability. To check the reliability of the volunteers showed several sets of pictures and, accordingly, received several passwords. One of them was recorded as a worker, and then the subject attempted to enter the system using other sets of pictures. In the study on longevity, subjects were shown the same sets at intervals of 5 days at first, and then 5 months later. “Brain passwords” showed high reliability and 95 percent memorability.