Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2016

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Gametrics: Towards Attack-Resilient Behavioral Authentication with Simple Cognitive Games

Authenticating a user based on her unique behavioral biometric traits has been extensively researched over the past few years. The most researched behavioral biometrics techniques are based on keystroke and mouse dynamics. These schemes, however, have been shown to be vulnerable to human-based and robotic attacks that attempt to mimic the user's behavioral pattern to impersonate the user.

In this paper, we aim to verify the user's identity through the use of active, cognition-based user interaction in the authentication process. Such interaction boasts to provide two key advantages. First, it may enhance the security of the authentication process as multiple rounds of active interaction would serve as a mechanism to prevent against several types of attacks, including zero-effort attack, expert trained attackers, and automated attacks. Second, it may enhance the usability of the authentication process by actively engaging the user in the process.

We explore the cognitive authentication paradigm through very simplistic interactive challenges, called Dynamic Cognitive Games, which involve objects floating around within the images, where the user's task is to match the objects with their respective target(s) and drag/drop them to the target location(s). Specifically, we introduce, build and study Gametrics ("Game-based biometrics"), an authentication mechanism based on the unique way the user solves such simple challenges captured by multiple features related to her cognitive abilities and mouse dynamics. Based on a comprehensive data set collected in both online and lab settings, we show that Gametrics can identify the users with a high accuracy (false negative rates, FNR, as low as 0.02) while rejecting zero-effort attackers (false positive rates, FPR, as low as 0.02). Moreover, Gametrics shows promising results in defending against expert attackers that try to learn and later mimic the user's pattern of solving the challenges (FPR for expert human attacker as low as 0.03). Moreover, we argue that the proposed biometrics is hard to be replayed or spoofed by automated means, such as robots or malware attacks.


Manar Mohamed    
University of Alabama at Birmingham
United States

Nitesh Saxena    
University of Alabama at Birmingham
United States


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