Dummy cursors keep your passwords safe from prying eyes


Dummy cursors keep your passwords safe from prying eyes

This is a system for preventing password theft, by mixing several dummy cursors in with the real cursor.

The software keyboards used in online banking are effective against key loggers, but by taking screen captures or looking over your shoulder, people would be able to work out your password.

With this system, only the user knows which cursor is the real one, so there’s no concern about people stealing passwords just by being able to see the screen.

“At first sight, it looks as if the user, too, will get confused which cursor is real. But when you try this system, it’s surprisingly easy to understand which one is your cursor. Observers though, don’t know which cursor you’re using. For example, now, I’m entering numbers. I think onlookers won’t understand what I’ve entered. Here, I’ve entered 0825, and in this way, I know that 0825 was actually entered.”

“Currently, the system uses five cursors, and the failure rate for password peeping is about 50%. If there are 20 cursors, 99% of onlookers will fail to see what the password is. That’s what we’ve discovered by doing tests.”

“With this system, the problem was, if you moved the cursor quickly while there were just a few dummy cursors, onlookers could figure out which is the real cursor. So, we’ve created a system called SymmetricCursors, where the dummy cursors move in a different way. Here, ten softkeys are arranged in a circle. In here, there’s only one real cursor. With this system, even if you move your cursor quickly, you don’t have just one cursor standing out, like there was before. In terms of speed, all the cursors are the same. So you can enter numbers after using the mouse direction to find out which is the real cursor.”

“We still need to find out more about how people recognize their cursor. Now that we’ve discovered this phenomenon, we want to use eye trackers and fMRI to learn about the biometric relationships, and think about applications like security and games.”


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