Scientists say that your heartbeat can replace a password when accessing your electronic records. By using heart’s electrical pattern as an encryption key, researchers from the Binghamton University of New York found a way to protect personal electronic health data by using patients' unique heartbeats. According to the study, "A Robust and Reusable ECG-based Authentication and Data Encryption Scheme for eHealth Systems"; scientists use patient ECGs as keys to unlock and lock their files.
[Image Source: Pixabay]
The research led by Zhanpeng Jin, the assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University. Jin mainly works on the cognitive biometrics, wearable and mobile computing and security issues in smart health, neuromorphic computing systems, neural engineering, low-power sensing and electronics, Jin says;
"The cost and complexity of traditional encryption solutions prevent them being directly applied to telemedicine or mobile healthcare. Those systems are gradually replacing clinic-centered healthcare, and we wanted to find a unique solution to protect sensitive personal health data with something simple, available and cost-effective."
Measuring the heartbeat
Jin also points that the traditional security measures such as encryption or cryptography are way too expensive, computing-intensive, and time-consuming as well. Basically, by using a simple biosensor applied to the skin, it is possible to measure the electrical activity of the heart. The patient's heartbeat then becomes the password to access their electronic health records.
"The ECG signal is one of the most important and common physiological parameters collected and analyzed to understand a patient's’ health. While ECG signals are collected for clinical diagnosis and transmitted through networks to electronic health records, we strategically reused the ECG signals for the data encryption. Through this strategy, the security and privacy can be enhanced while minimum cost will be added."
What is ECG?
Electrocardiogram aka EKG or ECG is a test that checks and shows the electrical activity of the heart as line tracings on paper. The dips and spikes in the tracings are called waves. Each of them are unique patterns and they create a unique rhythm that cannot be forged.
The ones who are into cyber security might be familiar with the previous work of Jin and his crew. The study was based on using a unique brain print rather than traditional passwords to access computers and buildings linked with cyber-security. With the study named "Brain Password: Exploring A Psychophysiological Approach for Secure User Authentication", Jin and Sarah Laszlo recently received official confirmation of roughly $1.2 million total funding over four years."This research will be very helpful and significant for next-generation secure, personalized healthcare," said Jin.
A collaboration between Prof. Zhanpeng Jin and a group of intelligent students in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering at the Binghamton University, The Cyber-Med Lab encompasses highly interdisciplinary topics with a particular focus. As well as working on how to promote efficiency and quality of healthcare by using cutting-edge computing technologies, they also discover new computing paradigms leveraging biologically inspired concepts.
Written by Tamar Melike Tegün