ZEBRA: Zero-Effort Bilateral Recurring Authentication

The THaW team is pleased to announce the third of its three papers to be presented at the IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy (aka ‘Oakland’) in May.

ZEBRA: Zero-Effort Bilateral Recurring Authentication
Shrirang Mare, Andrés Molina-Markham, Cory Cornelius, Ronald Peterson, and David Kotz

Abstract: Common authentication methods based on passwords, tokens, or fingerprints perform one-time authentication and rely on users to log out from the computer terminal when they leave. Users often do not log out, however, which is a security risk. The most common solution, inactivity timeouts, inevitably fail security (too long a timeout) or usability (too short a timeout) goals. One solution is to authenticate users continuously while they are using the terminal and automatically log them out when they leave. Several solutions are based on user proximity, but these are not sufficient: they only confirm whether the user is nearby but not whether the user is actually using the terminal. Proposed solutions based on behavioral biometric authentication (e.g., keystroke dynamics) may not be reliable, as a recent study suggests.

To address this problem we propose ZEBRA. In ZEBRA, a user wears a bracelet (with a built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, and radio) on her dominant wrist. When the user interacts with a computer terminal, the bracelet records the wrist movement, processes it, and sends it to the terminal. The terminal compares the wrist movement with the inputs it receives from the user (via keyboard and mouse), and confirms the continued presence of the user only if they correlate. Because the bracelet is on the same hand that provides inputs to the terminal, the accelerometer and gyroscope data and input events received by the terminal should correlate because their source is the same – the user’s hand movement. In our experiments ZEBRA performed continuous authentication with 85% accuracy in verifying the correct user and identified all adversaries within 11 s. For a different threshold that trades security for usability, ZEBRA correctly verified 90% of users and identified all adversaries within 50 s.

Note: since the time this paper was published we have learned of a relevant trademark on the name “Zebra”. Thus, we have renamed our approach “BRACE” and will use that name in future publications.

[view pdf]

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About David Kotz

David Kotz is the Champion International Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College. He served as Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Sciences for six years and as the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Technology Studies for four years. In 2013 he was appointed to the US Healthcare IT Policy Committee. His research interests include security and privacy, pervasive computing for healthcare, and wireless networks. He has published over 100 refereed journal and conference papers and obtained over $65m in grant funding. He is PI of a $10m grant from the NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program and leads a five-university team investigating Trustworthy Health & Wellness technology (see thaw.org). He is an IEEE Fellow, a Senior Member of the ACM, a 2008 Fulbright Fellow to India, and an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving his A.B. in Computer Science and Physics from Dartmouth in 1986, he completed his Ph.D in Computer Science from Duke University in 1991 and returned to Dartmouth to join the faculty. For more information see http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~dfk/.

6 thoughts on “ZEBRA: Zero-Effort Bilateral Recurring Authentication

  1. Pingback: New ZEBRA bracelet strengthens computer security | BirdsEmigrationlNews

  2. Pingback: New ZEBRA bracelet strengthens computer security | Daily Science News

  3. Pingback: Science Scanner: Voters Say Pluto is a Planet, Sense of Touch Explored, Promising New Way to Stop Spread of Cancer, High-Tech Bracelet Secures Computers « Science World

  4. Pingback: ZEBRA press | Trustworthy Health and Wellness

  5. Pingback: A prototype for automating computer log-offs - Senior Tech Insider

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