March 19 - A Japanese researcher has found a clever way to foil would-be hackers trying to steal the computer password information of online banking customers. Keita Watanabe's system floods a computer screen with fake cursors, bamboozling would-be thieves. Rob Muir has more.
For security reasons, mouse-based password platforms are becoming increasingly common in online banking. But they're not foolproof, so Keita Watanabe from Meiji University in Tokyo, has come up with a solution to protect them from password theft. He calls it "cursor camoufglage" a system where the computer screen can be flooded by dummy cursors designed to hide the real one from prying eyes, both on and off-line. (SOUNDBITE) KEITA WATANABE, DEVELOPER OF CURSOR CAMOUFLAGE APPLICATION, SAYING: "I found that the person who manipulates the mouse almost immediately identifies the real cursor among 20 dummies, but those peeping over the shoulder can hardly do so." Watanabe has even produced his own promotional video, illustrating exactly how a potential password thief could be fooled by cursor camouflage. He says the system is just as effective in foiling malware, as long as the real cursor is moved in a manner consistent with the dummies. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) KEITA WATANABE, DEVELOPER OF CURSOR CAMOUFLAGE APPLICATION, SAYING: "The trick gets caught when you make a fast or a repeated movement with the mouse, so I made it move more tactfully, which is a symmetric cursor camouflage." Watanabe has applied to patent his cursor camouflage application and hopes to adapt it for other purposes like video games as well. But first he says, the goal is security and foiling the hackers who seek to disrupt it.