Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science

First Advisor's Name

Bogdan Carbunar

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Sundaraja S. Iyengar

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

B. M. Golam Kibria

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Christine Lisetti

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Geoffrey Smith

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Sixth Advisor's Name

Umut Topkara

Sixth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Authentication, Graphical passwords, Multi-factor authentication, Mobile and wearable device authentication, Visual key fingerprint representation

Date of Defense



Mobile and wearable devices are popular platforms for accessing online services. However, the small form factor of such devices, makes a secure and practical experience for user authentication, challenging. Further, online fraud that includes phishing attacks, has revealed the importance of conversely providing solutions for usable authentication of remote services to online users. In this thesis, we introduce image-based solutions for mutual authentication between a user and a remote service provider. First, we propose and develop Pixie, a two-factor, object-based authentication solution for camera-equipped mobile and wearable devices. We further design ai.lock, a system that reliably extracts from images, authentication credentials similar to biometrics.

Second, we introduce CEAL, a system to generate visual key fingerprint representations of arbitrary binary strings, to be used to visually authenticate online entities and their cryptographic keys. CEAL leverages deep learning to capture the target style and domain of training images, into a generator model from a large collection of sample images rather than hand curated as a collection of rules, hence provides a unique capacity for easy customizability. CEAL integrates a model of the visual discriminative ability of human perception, hence the resulting fingerprint image generator avoids mapping distinct keys to images which are not distinguishable by humans. Further, CEAL deterministically generates visually pleasing fingerprint images from an input vector where the vector components are designated to represent visual properties which are either readily perceptible to human eye, or imperceptible yet are necessary for accurately modeling the target image domain.

We show that image-based authentication using Pixie is usable and fast, while ai.lock extracts authentication credentials that exceed the entropy of biometrics. Further, we show that CEAL outperforms state-of-the-art solution in terms of efficiency, usability, and resilience to powerful adversarial attacks.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).