research into behavior based mobile security

DHS funds behavior-based tech to enhance mobile security

The Department of Homeland Security is working with Northrop Grumman on biometric solutions that would enhance mobile security and eliminate the need for passwords.

Under DHS’s Mobile Technology Security research and development award, Northrop Grumman said it will combine behavioral sensing and modeling techniques for user authentication. The project is based on technology from two of the company’s university research partners.

The Carnegie Mellon University's cybersecurity institute has developed technology that uses a mobile device’s sensors to capture user behavior and then compares that data against a user profile derived from machine-learning techniques.  So rather than a password or a pin, Northrop said, behavioral characteristics would be used to authenticate users.

A project being developed by the Security and Software Engineering Research Center at Iowa State University authenticates a user by generating a curve on the device’s display that the user must then trace on the touchscreen. As the user swipes across the screen, the unique pressure points are calibrated that cannot be replicated by others, ensuring another level of security. 

"As the government moves to a more mobile business model, this new technology mitigates risk so users can take advantage of the newest mobile applications in a trusted state," said Shawn Purvis, vice president and general manager, cyber division, Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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