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Exploring the game changing applications of Keystroke Dynamics

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From contacts and passwords to wallets and bank information, our phones hold immense amounts of information about us than we would like to admit. Our growing dependence on mobile phones also translates into a tendency to trust internet entities without caution. Instances are many, where security is simply taken for granted. Quite ironically, data security is relatively more sophisticated for computer systems, even though mobile phones are more frequently used, store key personal information, and are more likely to be stolen or misused. And yet, there exists an unmet need for security measures specifically tailored for mobile devices. 

However, not every mobile phone user feels the same way about this matter. There are those who do not care about data security at all, those who care about it even if they do not have extremely confidential information stored on their mobile devices, and also those who carry around a ton of sensitive data on their phones including key business information and confidential data from workplaces. Truth be told, nobody anticipates a security transgression unless it happens. But why wait around for a critical data breach to occur for data security to be taken seriously? 

Keystroke dynamics: How you type is who you are

Simply put, Keystroke Dynamics is the study of typing behavior. Keystroke recognition, the technology behind keystroke dynamics, makes it possible to identify people based on how they type on a keyboard. By analyzing the timing and rhythm of the keystrokes, it is possible to create a profile of an individual’s typing behavior called a biometric template. When somebody types on a keyboard, the technology compares their typing pattern to the biometric template. The person successfully passes the verification if there is a match between the two. Otherwise, they do not get past it. 

There are many applications for keystroke dynamics, like the Data Template, but what it essentially provides is an extra layer of security. Consider the role of keystroke dynamics at password entry- the keyboard adds a second layer of password protection across any app. In addition to this, password management companies can provide added functionalities to monitor keystroke dynamics and overall text entries.

How does it work? 

As part of the onboarding, the user could be prompted to type pieces of text a number of times and in variations to understand the individual’s typing pattern. Once set, the software constantly monitors the user’s keystroke behavior and in the process gains a deeper understanding of all possible variations of their typing behavior. At the same time, it prepares itself to trigger an action in defense against unwarranted violations. At the occurrence of any suspicious activity, to reverify, the user is prompted for two-factor authentication, a fingerprint scan, or any other verification method to conclude if it is the right person or someone else. In case of unauthorized log-in attempts, the device shuts itself down. 

It is impressive that the software, by itself, is capable of detecting anomalies without having to connect to the cloud or API. That is to say, since this takes place locally, the device is not dependent on the internet to trigger a reaction to unauthenticated login attempts or malicious activities. Imagine a scenario where a phone gets stolen, and there is an attempt to access applications or other information after switching to airplane mode. Even without an internet connection, the phone completely shuts down as soon as it confirms unfamiliar patterns in keystroke behavior. This way, the device is rendered useless to whoever tries to access it unauthorized. As for a use case, the data template can be further enhanced with features to notify the owner of the phone about the theft or unauthorized attempt, through emails or alerts.

The hardware’s limitation, but the software’s strength 

User pattern recognition in computer systems takes longer as the hardware capabilities are not duly leveraged- the physical keyboard is not sufficiently equipped to detect variations in typing patterns. On the other hand, minor and intricate movements between the keys and actual patterns of typing are much more exact when it comes to a software powered by keystroke dynamics. This is what enables continuous authentication, where the confirmation of the user’s identity happens in real time. 

It is no surprise that mobile devices are getting smarter by the day, surpassing our expectations and equipping us with inventive solutions to tackle almost any perceivable inconvenience. At the same time, we must be mindful of potential threats to our privacy and security as we allow mobile phones progressively closer into our lives than ever before. Taking conscious choices concerning data privacy and security will empower us to fully enjoy the countless benefits mobile technology has in store for us. 

Fleksy is an award-winning virtual keyboard technology provider. The Fleksy Software Development Kits (SDKs) enable developers and companies to overcome the challenge of building a top-notch typing experience across various platforms. For more information, visit our Solutions at Fleksy

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