Security snaps

Dutch research could see portrait photos taken on mobile phone cameras used as biometric markers to protect confidential data.

Ileana Buhan, a PhD student at the University of Twente, realised that biometric information would be a far better way of securing data that the four-digit password currently used. Rather than add hardware to check fingerprints or carry out an iris scan, Buhan decided to use the camera fitted to most mobile phones.

Buhan created the application using facial recognition techniques on photos taken on the phone using a mathematical method to store the biometric data securely. Using this data, a mobile device is able to recognise people under different circumstances, so even if users change hairstyles, for instance, the system can still recognise them.

To exchange information between two mobile devices more securely than Bluetooth protocol currently allows, Buhan suggested constructing a password from two photos. To do this, two users would save their own photos on their phones, then take photos of each other. The phones would compare the two photos and generate a security code for making a safe connection. The users can then use this connection to exchange confidential information.