Two-factor authentication can go a long way toward protecting your online accounts, but it sure can be a pain. It’s a known fact that some people will risk their accounts being hacked to avoid the time-consuming interaction with smartphones, texts and pass codes.
Help may be on the way with a tool called Sound-Proof, an app now under development that is designed to authenticate log-ins via ambient sound. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, which is now working on Sound-Proof, says the following:
In Sound-Proof the second authentication factor is the proximity of the user’s phone to the device being used to log in. The proximity of the two devices is verified by comparing the ambient noise recorded by their microphones. Audio recording and comparison are transparent to the user, so that the user experience is similar to the one of password-only authentication.
The research team says that Sound-Proof is easy to use and works with current phones and major browsers without plug-ins — though it would require a mobile app (iOS and Android prototypes are underway). You will also need a data connection.
The tool only uploads the digital signature of the sounds, not the actual sounds, for an added layer of privacy.
This sounds great — so far. However, there are still potential glitches. Consider the scenario of someone in the same room as you trying to hack your account with a known password — like a coffee shop or the library or a school lounge. Researchers concede this could happen, but even in that event, using this app would likely be better than nothing for most people.