Your Typing Style as a Password

Paul-Jean Letourneau, Lead Developer for Wolfram Alpha, recently read a New York Times article which detailed how in the future we may be able to bypass the password simply by typing a user name (or some string). The takeaway is that the way you type the characters will be a unique identifier for you and only you.

Using Mathematica, Letourneau then decided to analyze his own typing signature by seeing the difference in keystrokes as he typed “wolfram.”  He details everything in this blog post.

Using this fun little typing interface, I feel like I actually learned something about the way my colleagues and I type. The time to type two letters with the same finger on the same hand takes twice as long as with different fingers. The faster you type, the more your typing speed will fluctuate. The more your typing speed fluctuates, the harder it will be to distinguish you from another person based on your typing style. Of course we’ve really just scratched the surface of what’s possible and what would actually be necessary in order to build a keystroke-based authentication system. But we’ve uncovered some trends in typing behavior that would help in building such a system.

Quite fascinating to put the research and practical together. You can even test your own typing profile by installing a CDF (computable data format) in your browser. Very cool!

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