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Typing Your Way into Identification
Submitted by Frost & Sullivan 2008/6/19

Behavioral biometric solutions are currently less familiar to users than are physiological solutions. While the latter are based on usersˇ biological characteristics, the former analyze the manner in which users carry out everyday activities, which is much more distinct that commonly supposed. Behavioral biometric solutions are currently less familiar to users than are physiological solutions. While the latter are based on usersˇ biological characteristics, the former analyze the manner in which users carry out everyday activities, which is much more distinct that commonly supposed.


In addition to achieving a high level of security, biometric technologies provide time-efficient solutions and convenience; both of which are some of the major drivers for the adoption of these technologies. Keystroke dynamics identifies an individual by his/her ubiquitous typing rhythm. Authentications are based on total time taken for text entry, and verifying the time between keystrokes. A reference template is created and stored in the database by typing the password several times to calculate the average latency between keystrokes. This template is then compared with the currently entered information to verify identity.


E-commerce, financial, and healthcare organizations are some of the early adopters of this technology. However, in the medium and long terms, with the growing need to curb fraudulent activities, legal, manufacturing, and local and state governments are anticipated to make significant contributions to generate higher revenues.

Why Keystroke Dynamics?

One of the key advantages of keystroke dynamics is that it does not require any additional hardware apart from the existing keyboard. This reduces the overall cost of the system, making it one of the cheapest available biometric technologies. The technologyˇs user-friendliness has been one of the driving forces for its adoption. It is used to target computer-based organizations where users are accustomed to using keyboards on a regular basis. Since passwords are vulnerable to theft, huge losses are currently being incurred in financial, healthcare and government organizations. To curb fraudulent activities, keystroke dynamics is anticipated to become a viable option in the medium and long terms.


In addition, remote authentication and the non-intrusiveness of the technology are driving demand by the end-users. Users can access their secured information from anywhere in the world, without fear of passwords being stolen or lost.


Some of the key deployments of this technology are:
 Government: Orange County Sheriffˇs Department (OCSD) in Santa Ana, California, implemented keystroke dynamics in 2007. It is using this technology to authenticate its 4,800 employees, as well as to prevent imposters from accessing confidential information that includes criminal history, deputy credentials, and case records.

 Education: Berry College, located outside the U.S. city of Rome, Georgia, has more than 1,900 students. It will be using this technology to enhance the protection of confidential records through a cost-effective and simple solution. This will authenticate users of internal databases, without interrupting the logon process.

 Financial: First Tech Credit Union has deployed keystroke dynamics to authenticate online users by the rhythm of their typing speed. The U.S. credit union has more than 150,000 users and has deployed this technology to ensure secure access, complying with new government regulations.

Keyboard to the Future

The keystroke dynamics market is growing steadily, with a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR) until 2013. Successful deployments in the aforementioned verticals, among a variety of applications, are likely to act as plausible reference sites for a steady upswing in market penetration. However, there are some challenges that need to be addressed:

 Increased awareness among end users across the globe about the competencies of keystroke dynamics is needed, to lead to wider deployment of the technology.

 The software should consider varied typing skills, as an experienced person will type much faster than a beginner. This is also applicable in cases when a personˇ s typing speed varies when he or she is ill or has a cut finger. Typing speed could also vary if a person enters text while he/she is standing or sitting uncomfortably. In addition, a new password will take more time to type than the old one, which the user has got accustomed to and has been typing for a long time.

 Typing at a fast pace, it often happens that two keys are pressed simultaneously or the second key is pressed before releasing the first key. This adds complexity and can lead to rejection of the authorized person.

 Changing keyboard models or using a laptop computer instead of a PC can affect keystroke dynamics. Standardization of computer keyboards is a challenge that needs to be addressed.


In conclusion, keystroke dynamicsˇ wide range of applications and the increasing number of projects that it can be used for will steadily make the technology more cost-effective.

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