Southern researchers hope to revamp mobile security

Melissa NunezOpinions and Features Editor

When computer science professor Shafaeat Hossain noticed a bright, driven student in his computer programing class, he took notice. He said that is when he asked Mohamed Rilvan, a senior computer science major, to assist with research involving cell phone authentication about two years ago.

Hossain said while most smartphones have face recognition or touch screen authentication, each has their faults. He said face recognition accuracy varies by factors like light and the current touch screen technology is costly and drives up cell phone prices.

The premise of their research was establishing a seamless cell phone authentication, more foolproof than current security options and offered at a cheaper price.

Hossain said by utilizing the principal component analysis, they extracted capacitive images and established a touch screen authentication with an accuracy of 99 percent and $50 to $100 cheaper than the current touch screen technology.

Hossain added their research was collaborative in that Rilvan was assisted by Bing Wang, a computer science and engineering professor from the University of Connecticut as well as invited by the National Science Foundation for their Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

According to the NSF website, the NSF finances undergraduate research opportunities through its REU program, which consists of about ten undergraduate students working on individual research at their universities. The NSF allocates stipends as well as helps students with traveling or housing expenses.

Hossain and Rivlan went on to publish their initial findings in the IEEE International Performance, Computing, and Communications journal, a peer reviewed publication, and presented their findings in late 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hossain said being featured in this journal was an honor as only 20 to 25 studies were accepted.

But their research will continue, as Rilvan said their hope is to redefine smart phone security by taking their findings and evolving them.

It happens all the time, users unlock their cell phones only to put down it and go into the next room, leaving it vulnerable to theft or a security breach. But Rilvan and Hossain hope to adapt their findings so that not only will their touch screen authentication be more accurate, but would continuously verify the user by recognizing their swiping patterns.

Rilvan said although he is graduating in May, he is eager to return and continue his research with Hossain as they have begun applying for a patent together.

Rilvan added he is looking forward to see where this research will take him, as the cell phone industry is booming and hopes to be apart of the innovation and development.

The pair is also looking forward to three more publications featuring their research as well as an upcoming conference in San Diego, California where they will present their more current findings.

Hossain said the duo have even more ideas to adapt to their research, but they cannot share them with the public just yet.

While Rilvan is an undergrad, Hossain said he is not just an assistant but compared his contribution to the research much like a Ph.D. student. He added that Rilvan is not only an incredibly bright researcher, but a “polite, humble and personable” student and sees nothing but success in his future.

Photo Courtesy: Shafaeat Hossain

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