Options for Spoken Human-Computer Authentication in Mobile Environments

L. O'Gorman, M.J. Sammon, J. Bentley, D.J. Skiba, and G.W. Erhart (USA)


User authentication, spoken authentication, ubiquitous computing, wireless device security, challengeresponse protocol


User authentication has long been a tiresome task for humans accessing computer systems, one for which ease of-use and security most often conflict. The challenge in this paper is to design a secure authentication scheme for users whose interaction is only via voice, because the users communicate to the computer system via a hands free, wireless headset. We consider, but provide argument against, proposed solutions like traditional passwords and speaker verification. Instead we offer five approaches designed specifically for spoken authentication: an arithmetic protocol, a personal question and answer protocol, a spoken PIN protocol, a location history scheme that exploits the fact that users have mobility as they use the system, and a time-aligned response method. We compare these proposals and give experimental results for some of these as applied to authentication for a mobile communications system prototyped in a working hospital unit. While no method is free of downsides, our tested users preferred the personal Q&A method. However, we believe the contribution of this paper is not in a single chosen method, but in articulating the problem statement, offering a range of solutions, and providing some groundwork for comparison and evaluation.

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