September 29, 2016

VTT’s new methods take privacy to a new level

Browsing in public can remain a private matter, thanks to the results of Finnish research.
Browsing in public can remain a private matter, thanks to the results of Finnish research.
istock.com / oneinchpunch

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed new types of encryption methods for improving the privacy protection of consumers.

The methods enable safer, more reliable and easier-to-use user authentication than what current systems allow. Until now, implementing safety, usability and privacy protection at the same time has been difficult, but VTT has successfully overcame the challenge.

“Our method protects, for example, the user’s biometric data or typing style,” says senior scientist Kimmo Halunen.

VTT integrates new kinds of encryption methods to known measuring methods of typing styles. For example, in biometric authentication, a person’s permanent, unchangeable biometric identifiers could leak out of the database. The method developed by VTT stores data in an encrypted form, and all comparisons between measuring results and the database are conducted using encrypted messages. This way, there is no need to open any biometric data at this stage of the process.

The traditional authentication based on passwords has revealed its vulnerabilities, as users mostly select weak passwords, and hackers have often managed to steal relatively large password databases. Companies including Dropbox and Yahoo have fallen prey to such data breaches.

New types of environments, such as smart devices and home appliances, continue to create challenges for user authentication.

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