Discriminative power of typing features on desktops, tablets, and phones for user identification

Amith K. Belman, Vir V. Phoha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Research in Keystroke-Dynamics (KD) has customarily focused on temporal features without considering context to generate user templates that are used in authentication. Additionally, work on KD in hand-held devices such as smart-phones and tablets have shown that these features alone do not perform satisfactorily for authentication. In this work, we analyze the discriminatory power of the most-used conventional features found in the literature, propose a set of context-sensitive or word-specific features, and analyze the discriminatory power of proposed features using their classification results. To perform these tasks, we use the keystroke data consisting of over 650K keystrokes, collected from 20 unique users during different activities on desktops, tablets, and phones, over a span of two months. On an average, each user made 12.5K, 9K, and 10K keystrokes on desktop, tablet, and phone, respectively. We find that the conventional features are not highly discriminatory on desktops and are only marginally better on hand-held devices for user identification. By using information of the context, a subset (derived after analysis) of our proposed word-specific features offers superior discrimination among users on all devices. We find that a majority of the classifiers, built using these features, perform user identification well with accuracies in the range of 90% to 97%, average precision and recall values of 0.914 and 0.901, respectively, on balanced test samples in 10-fold cross validation. We also find that proposed features work best on hand-held devices. This work calls for a shift from using conventional KD features to a set of context-sensitive or word-specific KD features that take advantage of known information such as context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalACM Transactions on Privacy and Security
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Context-sensitive features
  • Desktop
  • Discriminative power
  • Keystroke dynamics
  • Phone
  • Tablet
  • Typing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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