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August 17, 2015

Researchers ‘sound proof’ passwords with ambient noise

They use Sound-Proof, a two-factor authentication to protect passwords.

By CBR Staff Writer

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland have developed an innovative mechanism of using ambient noise for two factor authentication.

The technology, called Sound-Proof, does not require interaction between user and phone like the current mechanisms wherein users have to copy a verification code to the browser.

Scientists have used a technology for second authentication factor based on the proximity of the user’s phone to the device being used to log in.

Users can record ambient sound to their phone and PC for a very short time (3 seconds), with the phone then analyising sound to see if it matches the recordings. If the sound matches, access is granted to the user.

The password is unlocked by comparing the ambient noise recorded by their microphones based on the proximity of the two devices.

The researchers claim that the technology can be used in current phones and major browsers without plugins.

Researchers said in their paper, "We provide empirical evidence that ambient noise is a robust discriminant to determine the proximity of two devices both indoors and outdoors, and even if the phone is in a pocket or purse.

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"We conduct a user study designed to compare the perceived usability of Sound-Proof with Google 2-Step Verification. Participants ranked Sound-Proof as more usable and the majority would be willing to use Sound-Proof even for scenarios in which two-factor authentication is optional."

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