Swiss researchers from Institute of Information Security ETH Zurich have come up with a two-factor authentication based on ambient sound. The researchers claim that it does not require any user interaction to help speed adoption of strong security.
Researchers, Nikolaos Karapanos, Claudio Marforio, Claudio Soriente, and Srdjan Capkun, have presented a paper about their research at the recent Usenix conference in Washington, DC.
The researchers have proposed Sound-Proof, a usable and deployable two-factor authentication mechanism.
“Sound-Proof does not require interaction between the user and his phone,” they said.
In the Sound-Proof, second authentication factor is the proximity of the user’s phone to the device being used to log in. The proximity of the two devices is verified by comparing the ambient noise recorded by their microphones.
As the audio recording and comparison are transparent to the user, the user experience is similar to the one of password-only authentication.
It can be easily deployed as it works with current phones and major browsers without plugins.
“Two-factor authentication protects online accounts even if passwords are leaked. Most users, however, prefer password-only authentication. One reason why two-factor authentication is so unpopular is the extra steps that the user must complete in order to log in,” the researchers said in the paper.
According to the researcher, currently deployed two-factor authentication mechanisms require the user to interact with his/her phone to, for example, copy a verification code to the browser. Two-factor authentication schemes that eliminate user-phone interaction exist, but require additional software to be deployed.
“We build a prototype for both Android and iOS. We provide empirical evidence that ambient noise is a robust discriminant to determine the proximity of two devices both indoors and outdoors, and even if the phone is in a pocket or purse. We conduct a user study designed to compare the perceived usability of Sound-Proof with Google 2-Step Verification,” the researcher added.
The researchers claim that many people like the Sound-Proof. And they are willing to it for scenarios in which two-factor authentication is optional.