A new wearable could secure your computer

A computer science student from Dartmouth College has come up with a new, more secure way to make sure no one can see what you’re working on when you step away from your computer.

Of course, if you’re dealing with sensitive info, like other people’s medical or employment records (or maybe the horrors of your own overdraft), you should log out even if you’re just popping to put the kettle on. But many people forget, and website timeouts can take their sweet time logging you off. Then again, there are those sites where you can barely stop scrolling for a second before being asked to sign in again (grr). Shrirang Mare knew there had to be a better way,  so he designed a new system called ZEBRA (for Zero-Effort Bilateral Recurring Authentication, of course).

This involves using the computer while wearing a bracelet (similar to a fitness tracker) that has a built-in accelerometer, gyroscope and radio. This wearable records the user’s wrist movements and transmits it to the computer, which continually compares it to the input from the keyboard and mouse. If the two don’t match, you’ll be locked out faster than you can say ‘What does ZEBRA stand for again?’

When put to the test, the system was able to identify fakers within just 11 seconds. While this is undoubtedly a step forward for computer security, it could also means that in future, only you’ll be able to use your iPad, or that unless you’re holding the remote, the TV channel will never change. Control freaks of the world, rejoice.

Image by Michael Maggs via Wikimedia Commons.

Diane Shipley