Blog Post #3 – Security for the Elderly

The research program has expanded since the last blog post we made back in December; we have conducted more research and refined our Qualtrics survey to reflect the most accurate results possible. In addition to displaying biometric facial scanners to the elderly, we have also introduced USB fingerprint scanners to them. Although it is a different kind of technology, it essentially does the same thing; it incorporates a unique feature of each person’s body to authenticate a machine. Fingerprint scans and facial scans can extremely rarely lead to false positives; this is why development is currently leaning towards vein-scanning technology, as it would render less false acceptances into another person’s system (no false positives have been witnessed in the research).

 

It is actually interesting and exciting to see the elderly actually engaged in using a newer technology; in past cases, older family members often turn away technology but we are seeing an embrace of it at a rapid weight. Some of the elderly people we survey have new iPhone/Android phones that incorporate fingerprint scanners into their hardware; they say they enjoy it because they do not have to remember a password (the less clicks to do something for an elderly person, the better). According to our survey at this point, 76% of elderly people use technology often; with that information, it can be inferred that 100% of that group of people are vulnerable to cyber attacks and need security measures to protect their data and personal information.

 

We have encountered a challenge; an original goal of this research project was to create an app/software that would improve upon the current biometric softwares provided by Intel and the companies that actually make the hardware, but making one would be almost like reinventing the wheel and would take years of algorithm research and intense development. Rather than create our own version of our vision of these applications, we will forward our research to these companies in hopes that they can make improvements on what we have found to be troublesome aspects. Maneuvering around patents would also make for a huge hassle; it is best if we let the original creators refine their application.

Cybersecurity for the Elderly – Undergraduate Research Blog Post 2

The research project, Cybersecurity for the Elderly is a project dedicated towards ensuring the safety and protection of information for the elderly. With the rapid advancement of technology, and the ever growing need of it, the elderly find themselves struggling to keep up with this demand. One of the major aspects of this advancement in technology is the security of it; how well can information be protected. Yet, many of the elderly find it challenging to keep up with the requirements for security. One of the biggest issues being passwords, and the inability to keep of them. So the project is one that gives the elderly the opportunity to protect themselves better, while keeping up with the technological advances. The technologies that will help these elderly feel more secure about technology and their information is biometric scanners. What biometric scanners will do is allow the elderly to bypass the need for a string-based password, and replace it with their fingerprint, or voice activation.

Those working on the project have been able to gather data about how elderly people struggle with password security, and the data gathered has been very insightful. The average user of the survey was about 60 years old, and just about equal of between male and female. Besides these two general observations, there were also many other similarities between those who have participated in the research. For example, 60% of those who had taken the survey stated that it is difficult using a normal keyboard, and similarly over 45% of the individuals believe it takes them a while to type in their passwords. Another important piece of information is that 55% of those who took the survey somewhat agree that they would be willing to use security features more often if they were more easily accessible, and 45% strongly agreed. Finally, 45% of the testers strongly agreed that they would prefer to use a biometric scanner.

This information gives the researchers a great deal of insight into the effect of biometric scanners on the elderly. Initially, it states the elderly aren’t afraid of the biometric scanners. They seem interested in the idea and that it can definitely benefit their security and be potentially a lot easier than a normal string-based password. This is very beneficial because if the elderly are not afraid to adapt, then they will be more inclined to start using this technology on a regular basis, compared to every other day of use or maybe just once a day. Our research also shows that the elderly does also find normal string based passwords challenging, and a nuisance. Having to remember long strings with weird complexities can be challenging. Also, to have to type in these passwords can be straining and tough for the elderly. Finally, the fact that the elderly did find the use of the biometric scanner useful is great because this can lead to a wider use among the elderly. As this research progresses, the researchers expect to continuous stream of positive input from the elderly who are testing.

The research is in its early stage but it is definitely leaning towards a positive result. As more and more work is done with the elderly and how they’re use of technology, it will become evident that biometric scanners are the future. The benefits of such technology is obvious as it will help those who struggle with modern advancements much more easily, as well as making them feel secure.

Cybersecurity for the Elderly – Undergraduate Research Blog Post 1

 

As technological advances continue to be made and new generations continue to utilize new phones, tablets and games, it has become apparent that a generation has been left behind. In a rush to accommodate younger children with advanced technology, companies have left behind the elderly, a generation which has had trouble associating with even the most basic forms of technology. Above all issues, cyber security has become the most prevalent computer science topic in the modern day; with hacking tools and knowledge now widely available on the internet, there is now a greater chance than ever that one’s information can be stolen, even if one is not fooled into “handing” this information over.

Password complexity has become a topic at the forefront of cyber security; the complexity of a password will make it much harder for a hacker to essentially break in to someone’s account. Brute forcing algorithms used to crack accounts can easily find a simple password (primarily for offline accounts), but may have a much longer and harder time finding a complex password (for example, the strength of passwords Troubleshoot and Tr0uBle$H00t successively increase in complexity). Preventing hacking has also been aided by the creation of anti-virus software, which constantly scans your computer for Trojan horses, spyware, key loggers, and other malicious software that may be resting on your machine, simply waiting for you to type in a password so it can be sent over to a hacker.

Although not much can be done to prevent social engineering (psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information) of companies from the user-end, the most we can do is encourage people to make much more complex passwords; this is prevention, not ending hacking completely, which would be unattainable goal. However, with age-related memory loss problems, the elderly may have a much harder time remembering complex passwords, forcing them to use simple passwords, which may be easily susceptible to an attack.

Our research project is titled Cybersecurity for the Elderly. The elderly are trying to keep up with this new modern era of technology without understanding some of the basic architectural designs of it. The most vital aspect of technology is security; it would be senseless not to secure yourself and your data. However, many of the elderly struggle with securing their devices. Some ways they do this is by having extremely simple passwords, or even no password at all for their devices and online accounts. Understandably it can be difficult for the elderly to try and remember all of their passwords for multiple accounts. This research project is to investigate whether or not biometric security would be more beneficial to the elderly than regular pin/word passwords. This project entails utilizing different equipment such as fingerprint scanners, retinal scanners, face recognition, and software that utilizes one password to store other passwords, while experimenting with the elderly to discover which option would be optimal for them and their security.

[1]C. Hoffman, “Brute-Force Attacks Explained: How All Encryption is Vulnerable”, Howtogeek.com, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.howtogeek.com/166832/brute-force-attacks-explained-how-all-encryption-is-vulnerable/. [Accessed: 17- Oct- 2016].

[2]”What is biometric authentication? – Definition from WhatIs.com”, SearchSecurity, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/biometric-authentication. [Accessed: 17- Oct- 2016].