The University of Southampton

Life without passwords - fingerprint scans could provide the solution

Published: 
17 December 2010
Illustration

A new service developed by an ECS researcher enables Internet users to maintain multiple online accounts using a scan of their fingerprint as a password.

The new service, FingerID, has been developed by Sara Alotaibi, who has just completed a Masters degree in Web Technology at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science.

“FingerID provides users with the facility to maintain multiple Web accounts from a single source using a fingerprint scan, and eliminates their concerns about having to remember multiple usernames and passwords,” said Ms Alotaibi.

In order to develop FingerID, Ms Alotaibi evaluated existing and proposed systems geared towards replacing the conventional form of authentication using a username and password on the Web, and found that little work had been undertaken in this field. After evaluating these systems against criteria such as security, accessibility and usability, she generated a concept which could fundamentally alter the entire authentication mechanism: replacing memorised passwords with fingerprint data. This laid the foundation for FingerID - a service to maintain multiple Web accounts with the user's fingerprint.

The FingerID system is programmed to request the user’s fingerprint scan for registration purposes. Following registration, the user can then gain access to multiple Web accounts under one service. The registration process of the user will only take place once, and later scans will be used to verify the user to provide access to Web accounts. The FingerID system is composed of two main parts: Web site and software (browser).

“The username/password authentication mechanism is no longer fit for purpose, so FingerID has come at a good time,” said Ms Alotaibi. “We propose a cost-effective, convenient and secure authentication-solution for undertaking secure dealings over the Internet. It will allow Internet users to authenticate their identity in a hassle-free manner and go about their activities in a secure environment without the fear of loss of identity and money.”

Ms Alotaibi is now developing her approach further in her PhD (supervised by Dr David Argles and Dr Mike Wald in the ECS Learning Societies Lab) and will look at using other aspects of authentication such as palm prints and face gestures. She is also running an online survey to help her to develop her work further; this can be found at: http://qtrial.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5haXGeNh0MHgEio.

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Sara Alotaibi is doing PhD research in the ECS Learning Societies Lab. If you are interested in research in this group you can find out more information on our Postgraduate Admissions pages.

For further information about this news story contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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