Another Betrayal By Cellphone – Personal Identity

Normal operation of the cell phone in your pocket betrays your physical location. Your location is calculated by a process known as cell phone tower triangulation. In addition to giving away your location, research shows your cell phone can betray your personal identity as well.

The abstract from: Person Identification Based on Hand Tremor Characteristics by Oana Miu, Adrian Zamfir, Corneliu Florea, reads:

A plethora of biometric measures have been proposed in the past. In this paper we introduce a new potential biometric measure: the human tremor. We present a new method for identifying the user of a handheld device using characteristics of the hand tremor measured with a smartphone built-in inertial sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes). The main challenge of the proposed method is related to the fact that human normal tremor is very subtle while we aim to address real-life scenarios. To properly address the issue, we have relied on weighted Fourier linear combiner for retrieving only the tremor data from the hand movement and random forest for actual recognition. We have evaluated our method on a database with 10 000 samples from 17 persons reaching an accuracy of 76%.

The authors emphasize the limited size of their dataset and unexplored issues, but with an accuracy of 76% in identification mode and 98% in authentication (matching tremor to user in the database) mode, this approach merits further investigation.

Recording tremor data required no physical modification of the cell phones, only installation of an application that captured gyroscope and accelerometer data.

Before the targeting community gets too excited about having cell phone location and personal identify via tremor data, the authors do point out that personal tremor data can be recorded and used to defeat identification.

It maybe that hand tremor isn’t the killer identification mechanism but what if it were considered to be one factor of identification?

That is that hand tremor, plus location (say root terminal), plus a password, are all required for a successful login.

Building on our understanding from topic maps that identification isn’t ever a single factor, but can be multiple factors in different perspectives.

In that sense, two-factor identification demonstrates how lame our typical understanding of identity is in fact.

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