The way you type is as unique as your fingerprint

The way you type is as unique as your fingerprint

Everyone types differently – the pauses between keystrokes, and the length of time for which keys are held down, are unique for each person. And while that's yet more evidence that you're a special, unique flower, it's a problem if you want to hide your identity online.

Security researchers have developed a system that can identify with a high degree of certainty when a particular person is typing into a computer from their keystroke patterns. It requires just 10 minutes of training – which the user doesn't even have to be aware of.

The system was built by Per Thorsheim and Paul Moore, who noted the threat of widely available databases that can identify users from their keystrokes across several websites.

Of High Interest

To protect against that threat, they've developed a Chrome extension that gathers your input keystrokes and then relays them to the website at a pseudo-random rate after a brief delay. Or, of course, you could just copy-and-paste anything that you want to write into fields on a website.

As soon as somebody manages to build a biometric profile of your keystrokes at a network/website where you are otherwise completely anonymous, that same profile can be used to identify you at other sites you're using, where identifiable information is available about you," Thorsheim wrote in a blog post.

"Your favorite government agency – pick your country – could set up spoofed and fake pages on the darkweb as well as in the real world, in order to identify people across them. For oppressive regimes, this is most certainly of high interest."

Image credit: Jon Seidman // CC BY 2.0

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.