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Title: Authentication and pairing using human body impedance
Author: Roeschlin, Marc
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 384X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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The electrical properties of the human body are an unexplored source of much potential in Computer Security and Biometrics. The body is an electric conductor with very interesting features: at lower frequencies it can be treated like a resistive cable and at higher frequencies it behaves similar to an electric antenna. These physical phenomena allow the construction of electrical circuits that interface the human body or even build on it as the core element. In particular, one can use the human body as a transmission medium for electromagnetic signals. Using so-called body channel communication techniques, it is possible to send information wirelessly through the body of a person. In addition, the electrical properties of the body can be measured and constitute physiological characteristics unique to the every individual. Although these properties could prove very useful in the context of Computer Security, their potential for security applications is largely unexplored. We find, however, that extracting the body's distinctive impedance characteristics or using the body as a communication medium entails many interesting application scenarios. The human body can serve as an additional layer to augment the security in existing protocols or enable the design of entirely new methods. In this thesis, we propose solutions to two challenging problems in the area of System Security: user authentication and secure device pairing. In order to address these problems, we conceptualize and develop solutions that make use of the electrical properties of the human body. Keeping simplicity and universality in mind, we primarily focus on applications where the human body can be interfaced in ways that require little to no user involvement and are completely noninvasive. We find that it is most natural, even for novice users, to interface the body through the person's hands. Our proposed solutions therefore connect to the body through (capacitive) electrodes that the user has to touch with their hands. In case of user authentication, we propose a method that measures the human body impedance from one hand to the other, and for device pairing, we present an approach that allows two devices to communicate with each other when a person touches them both, one with each hand.
Supervisor: Rasmussen, Kasper ; Martinovic, Ivan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available