Squiggly lines on screens could be future of passwords

Squiggly lines on screens could be future of passwords
Researchers are exploring the security and memorability of free-form gestures as passwords.

A new Rutgers University study shows that free-form gestures - sweeping fingers in shapes across the screen of a smart phone or tablet - can be used to unlock phones and grant access to apps.

These gestures are less likely than traditional typed passwords or newer "connect-the-dots" grid exercises to be observed and reproduced by "shoulder surfers" who spy on users to gain unauthorized access.

Janne Lindqvist, one of the leaders of the project and an assistant professor in the School of Engineering's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said all it takes to steal a password is a quick eye, adding that with all the personal and transactional information they have on their phones today, improved mobile security is becoming increasingly critical.

In developing a secure solution to this problem, Lindqvist and the other researchers from Rutgers and collaborators from Max-Planck Institute for Informatics, including Antti Oulasvirta , and University of Helsinki studied the practicality of using free-form gestures for access authentication.

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