We present a novel idea for user authentication that we call pass-thoughts. Recent advances in Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology indicate that there is potential for a new type of human-computer interaction: a user transmitting thoughts directly to a computer. The goal of a pass-thought system would be to extract as much entropy as possible from a user's brain signals upon "transmitting" a thought. Provided that these brain signals can be recorded and processed in an accurate and repeatable way, a pass-thought system might provide a quasi two-factor, changeable, authentication method resistant to shoulder-surfing. The potential size of the space of a pass-thought system would seem to be unbounded in theory, although in practice it will be finite due to system constraints. In this paper, we discuss the motivation and potential of pass-thought authentication, the status quo of BCI technology, and out-line the design of what we believe to be a currently feasible pass-thought system. We also briefly mention the need for general exploration and open debate regarding ethical considerations for such technologies.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Authentication, Passwords
Conference New Security Paradigms Workshop 2005
Citation
Thorpe, J. (Julie), Van Oorschot, P, & Somayaji, A. (2006). Pass-thoughts: Authenticating with our minds. Presented at the New Security Paradigms Workshop 2005.