Clarkson University professors granted $75,000 by Facebook for behavioral biometrics research

Facebook has awarded a $75,000 grant to three professors at Clarkson University through its Secure the Internet Grants program to improve account security by continuing their research into post-password authentication.

Professors Daqing Hou, Director of Software Engineering and Stephanie Schuckers, Paynter-Krigman Endowed Professor in Engineering Science, are collaborating with Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Mahesh Banavar to develop a continuous identification process based on behaviors like key-strokes, mouse movements, and finger pressure and swipes on a mobile device.

“Any interaction with Facebook, we want to capture all of that data and we compute a similarity score of the behavior to your previous behavior,” Hou said. “We have authentic behavior and we compute the distance between the current behavior and the recorded authentic behavior. If it is too far off, that is one insight that someone else is using your app.”

Schuckers and Hou have been researching keystroke dynamics for seven years with support from organizations including the National Science Foundation (NSF), according to the announcement. Data collected previously for similar research was less than ideal because it came from a controlled environment, but Hou and Schuckers have built a dataset they say is the largest of its kind in the world, consisting of more than 13 million keystrokes, from the authentic interactions of more than 100 people.

The trio’s research was launched with $125,000 in funding from winning the Nicklas-Ignite Research Fellowship.

Schuckers is well known in the biometrics industry for her roles as Head of the Biometric Institute’s Academic Research and Innovation Group, Director of the Center of Identification Technology Research (CITeR), and NexID CEO prior to its acquisition by Precise Biometrics in 2016.

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