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Evaluating Behavioral Biometrics for Continuous Authentication: Challenges and Metrics

Simon Eberz‚ Kasper Rasmussen‚ Vincent Lenders and Ivan Martinovic


In recent years, behavioral biometrics have become a popular approach to support continuous authentication systems. Most generally, a continuous authentication system can make two types of errors: false rejects and false accepts. Based on this, the most commonly reported metrics to evaluate systems are the False Reject Rate (FRR) and False Accept Rate (FAR). However, most papers only report the mean of these measures with little attention paid to their distribution. This is problematic as systematic errors allow attackers to perpetually escape detection while random errors are less severe. Using 16 biometric datasets we show that these systematic errors are very common in the wild. We show that some biometrics (such as eye movements) are particularly prone to systematic errors, while others (such as touchscreen inputs) show more even error distributions. Our results also show that the inclusion of some distinctive features lowers average error rates but significantly increases the prevalence of systematic errors. As such, blind optimization of the mean EER (through feature engineering or selection) can sometimes lead to lower security. Following this result we propose the Gini Coefficient (GC) as an additional metric to accurately capture different error distributions. We demonstrate the usefulness of this measure both to compare different systems and to guide researchers during feature selection. In addition to the selection of features and classifiers, some nonfunctional machine learning methodologies also affect error rates. The most notable examples of this are the selection of training data and the attacker model used to develop the negative class. 13 out of the 25 papers we analyzed either include imposter data in the negative class or randomly sample training data from the entire dataset, with a further 6 not giving any information on the methodology used. Using real-world data we show that both of these decisions lead to significant underestimation of error rates by 63% and 81%, respectively. This is an alarming result, as it suggests that researchers are either unaware of the magnitude of these effects or might even be purposefully attempting to over-optimize their EER without actually improving the system.

Book Title
ACM Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security (ASIACCS)