Passwords are not foolproof. Cracking software can make short work of them, especially if they’re as clever or impenetrable as “password” or “123456.”
With more personal and sensitive information being stored in online accounts these days, protecting the integrity of your online identity is crucial. But, let’s face it, creating strong and unique passwords for each individual account is time-consuming and remembering those secure passwords, with all of their random capital letters and unique characters, is a pain in the neck.
But thanks to some recent advances in technology, we’ll soon be moving away from text passwords as the front line of internet security. Here’s what to expect as we move further into the digital age:
This one is a little lower-tech, but very cool. A London-based company called PixelPin Ltd. is developing a technology that uses a photo instead of a password. Instead of entering numbers and letters, you’d click on sections of a photo in a specific sequence in order to be granted access. The photo and sequence are much easier to remember and difficult for potential identity thieves to replicate.
We’ve seen this in spy movies for decades. But what used to be exclusive to top-secret facilities or science fiction could be the new norm. The new Apple iPhone 5s has a tiny fingerprint scanner which will provide owners with added security.
As Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio puts it, “Your fingerprint is one of the best passwords in the world. It’s always with you and no two are exactly alike.”
Many laptops are being built with fingerprint scanners as well. So it won’t be long until running your finger over your device is as commonplace as turning it on.
If you work at a large corporation like Google, tokens might be pretty common to you. For those who are unfamiliar, a token is basically a small device that you carry around on which a random code is generated every few seconds. When you go to log on to your device or account, you enter the code displayed on the token, usually in addition to your standard password. It provides a double layer of protection.
More advanced tokens are being developed that can actually communicate with your device automatically via USB interface or through near field communication (NFC). That way, instead of manually typing in the passcode shown on your token, you’d plug it into your device or have it nearby. Think of it as a digital key fob.
Several law enforcement agencies use voice recognition and authentication technology to secure locations, and the same could be used on devices. All you’d have to do is speak a specific phrase and the device would recognize your voice pattern and allow you access. Many of the devices we currently use on a daily basis are equipped with a microphone, so we might see voice recognition begin to take off as the technology is perfected.
Of all of the replacements for passwords when it comes to device and account security, ocular scanning is probably the furthest away. However, the technology exists and is being used in a limited capacity.
Ocular scanning works by taking an extremely detailed photograph of your eye, mainly your iris, but sometimes your retina. This photo is then broken down into digital information and is stored. Since your iris and retina are as unique as your fingerprints, your eye could be scanned and used as an alternative method of security.
Currently, ocular scanning is used at a number of high-tech and high-security facilities where access is tightly controlled. But as cameras become smaller and smaller and their capabilities become more robust, it’s not hard to imagine webcams and cameras on portable devices being used as mobile ocular scanners.
But in the meantime, you’ll probably have to visit government facilities or research and development centers to see them in action.
It’s only a matter of time before biometrics or other foolproof methods take the place of the common password. Which of these security measures most intrigue you? Are there any others that we didn’t mention? Give us your thoughts in the comments!