While accessing our electronic records, a password can be replaced by our heartbeat, as per scientists. Researchers at Binghamton University of New York have discovered a method to protect personal electronic health data by making use of unique heartbeats of patients. The electrical pattern of heart is used as an encryption key. The ECGs of patients are used by scientists as keys to lock and unlock their files as per the study, “A Robust and Reusable ECG-based Authentication and Data Encryption Scheme for eHealth Systems”.
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, headed the research. Primarily, Jin 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. According to Jin,
“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.”
It has been pointed out by Jin that conventional security measures like encryption or cryptography are extremely expensive, computing-intensive, and time-consuming. On the whole, the electrical activity of the heart can be measured by simply using biosensor applied to the skin. Then, the patient’s heartbeat turns into the password that can be used to access their electronic health records.
While explaining, Jin stated:
“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.”
A test that checks and shows the electrical activity of the heart as line tracings on paper is called Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). The dips and spikes in the tracings are called waves. Each of them has a unique pattern and they generate a unique rhythm that cannot be forged.
Those among you who are interested in cyber security might be aware of the previous work of Jin and his crew. The study involved the use of a unique brain print instead of conventional passwords to access computers and buildings linked with cyber-security. Recently, Jin and Sarah Laszlo have been given official confirmation of roughly $1.2 million total funding over four years for this study known as “Brain Password: Exploring A Psychophysiological Approach for Secure User Authentication”. Jin claims that,
“This research will be very helpful and significant for next-generation secure, personalized healthcare.”
“The Cyber-Med Lab”, which is 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, includes highly interdisciplinary topics with a particular focus.
They are not only working to promote efficiency and quality of healthcare by using cutting-edge computing technologies, but they are also finding out new computing paradigms leveraging biologically inspired concepts.