Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Authentication Confidences

Gregory R. Ganger

April 2001

Keywords: Security, authentication, biometric authentication, system access

"Over the Internet, no one knows you're a dog," goes the joke. Yet, in most systems, a password submitted over the Internet gives one the same access rights as one typed at the physical console. We promote an alternate approach to authentication, in which a system fuses observations about a user into a probability (an authentication confidence) that the user is who they claim to be. Relevant observations include password correctness, physical location, activity patterns, and biometric readings. Authentication confidences refine current yes-or-no authentication decisions, allowing systems to cleanly provide partial access rights to authenticated users whose identities are suspect.

8 pages

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