Security

Cognitive Authentication Schemes for Unassisted Humans, Safe Against Spyware

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Executive Summary

Can the authors secure user authentication against eavesdropping adversaries, relying on human cognitive functions alone, unassisted by any external computational device? To accomplish this goal, they propose challenge response protocols that rely on a shared secret set of pictures. Under the brute-force attack the protocols are safe against eavesdropping, in that an observer who fully records any feasible series of successful interactions cannot practically compute the user's secret. Moreover, the protocols can be tuned to any desired level of security against random guessing, where security can be traded-off with authentication time. The proposed protocols have two drawbacks: First, training is required to familiarize the user with the secret set of pictures. Second, depending on the level of security required, entry time can be significantly longer than with alternative methods.

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