Researchers at the Plymouth University in UK believe their new multi-level authentication system GOTPass could be effective in protecting personal online information from hackers.

It could also be easier for users to remember, and be less expensive for providers to implement since it would not require the deployment of potentially costly hardware systems.

Researchers say the system would be applicable for online banking and other such services, where users with several accounts would struggle to carry around multiple devices, to gain access.

They also publish the results of a series of security tests, demonstrating that out of 690 hacking attempts – using a range of guesswork and more targeted methods - there were just 23 successful break-ins.

To set up the GOTPass system, users would have to choose a unique username and draw any shape on a 4x4 unlock pattern, similar to that already used on mobile devices.

When they subsequently log in to their account, the user would enter their username and draw the pattern lock, with the next screen containing a series of 16 images, among which are two of their selected images, six associated distractors and eight random decoys.

Correctly identifying the two images would lead to the generated eight-digit random code located on the top or left edges of the login panel which the user would then need to type in to gain access to their information.

The study was published in Information Security Journal: A Global Perspective.

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