Improving All-or-Nothing Access To Mobile Apps

What if you could access some of your less-senstive apps right away, and have password protection for the more sensitive apps?

That's the subject of a new research paper from Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft. Researchers Eiji Hayashi1, Oriana Riva, Karin Strauss, A.J. Bernheim Brush, and Stuart Schechter found that the use of all-or-nothing passphrases to lock tablets didn't work for people who were in the habit of sharing the device. All-or-nothing locks for mobile phones was only slightly better since these tend not be shared as much. Additionally parents were concerned about their children using their mobile devices.

What the researchers found was that biometrics might be the solution, allowing different people access to individual apps. Biometrics--from fingerprint analysis to voice recognition and facial recognition--is, however, far from perfect. From the study:

While the limitations of our study prevent us from knowing definitively whether participants’ preference for biometric authentication would extend to real-world implementations and real-world situations, we were encouraged that few participants expressed concerns despite our attempts to disclose their limitations. Participants’ lack of concern about biometric privacy may have simply been an acknowledgement that their device is already frequently trusted to collect the sound of their voice and the likeness of their face.