Evaluating the Efficacy of Implicit Authentication Under Realistic Operating Scenarios
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Smartphones contain a wealth of personal and corporate data. Several surveys have reported that about half of the smartphone owners do not configure primary authentication mechanisms (such as PINs, passwords, and fingerprint- or facial-recognition systems) on their devices to protect data due to usability concerns. In addition, primary authentication mechanisms have been subject to operating system flaws, smudge attacks, and shoulder surfing attacks. These limitations have prompted researchers to develop implicit authentication (IA), which authenticates a user by using distinctive, measurable patterns of device use that are gathered from the device users without requiring deliberate actions. Researchers have claimed that IA has desirable security and usability properties and it seems a promising candidate to mitigate the security and usability issues of primary authentication mechanisms. Our observation is that the existing evaluations of IA have a preoccupation with accuracy numbers and they have neglected the deployment, usability and security issues that are critical for its adoption. Furthermore, the existing evaluations have followed an ad-hoc approach based on synthetic datasets and weak adversarial models. To confirm our observations, we first identify a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria for IA schemes. We gather real-world datasets and evaluate diverse and prominent IA schemes to question the efficacy of existing IA schemes and to gain insight into the pitfalls of the contemporary evaluation approach to IA. Our evaluation confirms that under realistic operating conditions, several prominent IA schemes perform poorly across key evaluation metrics and thereby fail to provide adequate security. We then examine the usability and security properties of IA by carefully evaluating promising IA schemes. Our usability evaluation shows that the users like the convenience offered by IA. However, it uncovers issues due to IA's transparent operation and false rejects, which are both inherent to IA. It also suggests that detection delay and false accepts are concerns to several users. In terms of security, our evaluation based on a realistic, stronger adversarial model shows the susceptibility of highly accurate, touch input-based IA schemes to shoulder surfing attacks and attacks that train an attacker by leveraging raw touch data of victims. These findings exemplify the significance of realistic adversarial models. These critical security and usability challenges remained unidentified by the previous research efforts due to the passive involvement of human subjects (only as behavioural data sources). This emphasizes the need for rapid prototyping and deployment of IA for an active involvement of human subjects in IA research. To this end, we design, implement, evaluate and release in open source a framework, which reduces the re-engineering effort in IA research and enables deployment of IA on off-the-shelf Android devices. The existing authentication schemes available on contemporary smartphones fail to provide both usability and security. Authenticating users based on their behaviour, as suggested by the literature on IA, is a promising idea. However, this thesis concludes that several results reported in the existing IA literature are misleading due to the unrealistic evaluation conditions and several critical challenges in the IA domain need yet to be resolved. This thesis identifies these challenges and provides necessary tools and design guidelines to establish the future viability of IA.