Remember keyboardPrivacy? We reviewed the proof-of-concept Chrome extension back in 2015 when it was first released to protect its users against one from of behavioral targeting: the analysis of typing patterns.

All users had to do was install the Chrome extension and be protected against different forms of typing-based tracking.

Firefox users can check out the Behavioral Keyboard Privacy extension for the browser instead.

Technically speaking, the extension does manipulate two core metrics used to identify a person based on the typing pattern. Dwell Time and Gap Time define the time that a key is pressed and the time between key presses respectively.

The security researcher launched a campaign on Indiegogo today to fund a hardware-based device that prevents the identification of the user based on typing.

keyboard privacy
via Indiegogo

The device is placed between the keyboard and the computer. Just like the Chrome extension, it works automatically once it is put in place.

The device offers several advantages over browser extensions, namely that it works on the entire system and not just in a single-browser, that it does not require the installation of software, cannot be detected and does not cause latency on some sites.

The two downsides are that a single device costs £35 GBP (roughly 40 Euro / Dollar), and that it only seems to work with USB-based keyboards and not with other ports, e.g. PS/2.

Tip: if you are interested in finding out if you can be identified, you may want to run the free online test on the KeyTrac website.

You are asked to type two paragraphs of English text that is used to analyze the typing behavior, and then another paragraph that is used for identification. KeyTrac recommends to ask someone else first to type the second text that it uses for identification as it should demonstrate negative and positive identification.

More and more sites use behavioral tracking, e.g. for fraud detection. A hardware-based device protects against typing-based behavioral identification just like the Chrome extension but with several advantages. While it may be used in more environments because of that, it too may not be used in all or with all devices, e.g. a laptop with connected keyboard.

Now You: Did you take the behavioral targeting typing test? What was the outcome?

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