Superior accessible security

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

A new, patent pending, technology from GrIDsure provides high levels of security, great ease of use, and improved accessibility.

The technology is disarmingly simple but my security colleagues assure me it is more secure than most systems on the market at present.

A user registers by choosing a pattern on a 5×5 grid. An example is shown below.

A 5 x 5 grid in different colours, showing placement of a 4 number PIN

When a user wants to use the system, they are presented with the same 5×5 grid filled with random numbers from 0-9.

The same 5 x 5 grid, now filled with random numbers

The one-time PIN for the transaction is the four numbers of the patterns 7584 in the case above.

The next time the user is presented with a different random set of numbers and thus a different PIN.

Interestingly the system is more secure if not all of the digits 0-9 are used, as it makes it more difficult for shoulder-surfers to guess the pattern. For extreme security the system has been implemented with a 9×9 pattern and a pattern of 8 squares.

This system will work for transactions over the Web, via mobile phones, as well as physical card readers such as ATMs and point of sale.

For people with disabilities this system can be superior to existing systems:

  • Many people cannot use a keypad because they have limited hand co-ordination or no hands at all. Other people may find using a keypad difficult in certain environments, for example using a keypad at a point-of-sale from a wheelchair. Because the PIN is only valid for the current transaction, the number can be spoken out aloud and entered by the cashier or a voice recognition system without compromising security.
  • Many people can remember shapes more easily than a series of digits; this may be because of illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s, or various types of learning difficulties, so the system is easier for them to use, even if they use it infrequently.
  • For people with vision impairments the system works well as the grid can be magnified, read out using a screen reader, or displayed as Braille. It is also not dependent on any visual clues as compared to some other high security systems.

At present some people have no choice but to give their PINs to carers or friends with the obvious security implications. GrIDsure removes the need to do this.

Some high security solutions require an extra piece of equipment, which may not be convenient for everyone—but can be a real problem for people with disabilities, because it is difficult to use and easily misplaced. GrIDsure works with standard Internet browsers, mobile phones and PDAs, so removing the need for an extra device.

Overall, GrIDsure provides improved security and usability for all and greater accessibility and independence for people with disabilities.

With GrIDsure we now have a secure password system that anybody with a disability can use and it does not disbar them from using systems which otherwise would not be accessible to them.