CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

Timothy Ellis


The use of mobile devices has extended to all areas of human life and has changed the way people work and socialize. Mobile devices are susceptible to getting lost, stolen, or compromised. Several approaches have been adopted to protect the information stored on these devices. One of these approaches is user authentication. The two most popular methods of user authentication are knowledge based and token based methods but they present different kinds of problems.

Biometric authentication methods have emerged in recent years as a way to deal with these problems. They use an individual’s unique characteristics for identification and have proven to be somewhat effective in authenticating users. Biometric authentication methods also present several problems. For example, they aren’t 100% effective in identifying users, some of them are not well perceived by users, others require too much computational effort, and others require special equipment or special postures by the user. Ultimately their implementation can result in unauthorized use of the devices or the user being annoyed by the implementation.

New ways of interacting with mobile devices have emerged in recent years. This makes it necessary for authentication methods to adapt to these changes and take advantage of them. For example, the use of touchscreens has become prevalent in mobile devices, which means that biometric authentication methods need to adapt to it. One important aspect to consider when adopting these new methods is their acceptance of these methods by users. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) states that system use is a response that can be predicted by user motivation.

This work presents an authentication method that can constantly verify the user’s identity which can help prevent unauthorized use of a device or access to sensitive information. The goal was to authenticate people while they used their fingers to interact with their touchscreen mobile devices doing ordinary tasks like vertical and horizontal scrolling. The approach used six biometric traits to do the authentication. The combination of those traits allowed for authentication at the beginning and at the end of a finger stroke. Support Vector Machines were employed and the best results obtained show Equal Error Rate values around 35%. Those results demonstrate the potential of the approach to verify a person’s identity.

Additionally, this works tested the acceptance of the approach among participants, which can influence its eventual adoption. An acceptance level of 80% was obtained which compares favorably against other behavioral biometric approaches.