Secure and Usable User-in-a-Context Continuous Authentication in Smartphones Leveraging Non-Assisted Sensors Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2018


  • 4


  • 18

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1424-3210

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1424-8220


  • Smartphones are equipped with a set of sensors that describe the environment (e.g., GPS, noise, etc.) and their current status and usage (e.g., battery consumption, accelerometer readings, etc.). Several works have already addressed how to leverage such data for user-in-a-context continuous authentication, i.e., determining if the porting user is the authorized one and resides in his regular physical environment. This can be useful for an early reaction against robbery or impersonation. However, most previous works depend on assisted sensors, i.e., they rely upon immutable elements (e.g., cell towers, satellites, magnetism), thus being ineffective in their absence. Moreover, they focus on accuracy aspects, neglecting usability ones. For this purpose, in this paper, we explore the use of four non-assisted sensors, namely battery, transmitted data, ambient light and noise. Our approach leverages data stream mining techniques and offers a tunable security-usability trade-off. We assess the accuracy, immediacy, usability and readiness of the proposal. Results on 50 users over 24 months show that battery readings alone achieve 97.05% of accuracy and 81.35% for audio, light and battery all together. Moreover, when usability is at stake, robbery is detected in 100 s for the case of battery and in 250 s when audio, light and battery are applied. Remarkably, these figures are obtained with moderate training and storage needs, thus making the approach suitable for current devices.


  • Computer Science


  • user-in-a-context continuous authentication; smartphone data; data stream mining; non-assisted sensors