The way a human brain responds to certain words could soon take the place of passwords or fingerprints, which are used to verify a person's identity and ensure better security, says a new study published in the academic journal Neurocomputing.
"If someone's fingerprint is stolen, that person cannot just grow a new finger to replace the compromised fingerprint - the fingerprint for that person is compromised forever," said Sarah Laszlo, study co-author, Assistant professor of psychology and linguistics, Binghamton University, USA.
Fingerprints are 'non-cancelable.' Brain prints, on the other hand, are potentially cancelable. So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brain print from an authorized user, the authorized user could then 'reset' their brain print.
In the study, the researchers observed the brain signals of 45 volunteers as they read a list of 75 acronyms, such as FBI and DVD.
They recorded the brain's reaction to each group of letters, focusing on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognizing words.
The researchers found that the participants' brains reacted differently to each acronym enough that a computer system was able to identify each volunteer with 94 percent accuracy.
The results suggest that brainwaves could be used by security systems to verify a person's identity.
Brain prints or brain biometrics are appealing because they are cancelable and cannot be stolen by malicious means the way a finger or retina can, the researchers said.
"We tend to see the applications of this system as being more along the lines of high-security physical locations, like the Pentagon or Air Force Labs, where there are not that many users that are authorized to enter," said Zhanpeng Jin, Assistant professor at Binghamton University.