Passwords could soon be a thing of the past. A Swiss startup has developed a new method, which should make the log-in safer and easier. This is based on noise.
Secure passwords and multi-level authentication systems are becoming more and more important. On the Internet, we pay our bills, communicate via business and at the same time also reveal all sorts of private features. And yet, many people use the same password for all their accounts. Identity theft and Internet espionage are increasing worldwide.
The Swiss Startup Futurae has now developed a method to improve the authentication process and to facilitate it as well. Instead of hacking passwords, which have to be entered first and forgotten, the team of scientists at the ETH Zurich is focusing on sounds – and indeed sounds from the immediate environment. Your app is called Sound-Proof.
If a user wants access to an Internet service, such as online banking, he usually has to enter a password on his homepage and then, depending on the authentication process (usually still a code) starts the transaction.
But if the service works with sound proof and the user has installed the sound proof app on a second device with a microphone (such as the smartphone, the tablet or even the computer), then the authentication process takes place via noise.
Both devices record ambient noise for three seconds, then an algorithm compares the two audio tracks. Supposedly, the recorded files scan for equal words or similar pitches: for example, the same part of a song or even a conversation of passers-by is sufficient for authentication.
If it is absolutely quiet, then Sound-Proof switches on the ultrasound: thus the browser transmits an encrypted message from the browser to the mobile phone. This receives and decrypts the signal and thereby authenticates the user.
But what if a hacker is aware of the password and is in the same room as the user or is just listening to the same song? In this case, too, the team from Futurae thinks that if you log in for the first time in a new browser or on a new device, the app requires a manual confirmation.
According to the manufacturer, the technology is to work even if the smartphone is in an adjoining room – provided the door is open. At the end of March, the team won some 121,000 euros of start-up capital at the Venture-Kick competition.