Futuristic Replacements for Passwords

Futuristic Replacements for Passwords

Since the introduction of computer passwords in the early 1960s, not much has changed. In fact, 50 years later, hackers are still running rampant, breaching millions of accounts each year. To the hackers’ defense, some of the most commonly-used passwords are “password” and “123456;” however, to the users’ defense, having to memorize multiple passwords for multiple accounts is somewhat daunting. This has prompted the invention of modern ways of verified access.

Brainprint: Researchers at Binghamton University have discovered a unique brainwave reaction to certain stimuli, such as words, that could someday be used to unlock accounts and devices. Currently, this process requires the user to strap electrodes to their head, but researchers contend that brainprints could be used in high-security physical locations now.  

Heartbeat: Each individual creates a unique signature in the wave patterns created by their heart’s electrical activity. Bionym, a startup company, has created a bracelet that converts each wave pattern into a key. Once a user snaps the wearable to his/her wrist, an electrocardiogram sensor verifies the user’s identity and then syncs with other devices like smartphones, computers, car doors, hotel rooms, etc. The neat feature is that the bracelet keeps the user signed in until the bracelet is removed.

Facial recognition: Intel released True Key, a password manager app that takes a photo of the users face and remembers the users’ features like facial math, the distance between the user’s eyes and nose.

Google searches: Imagine using your digital activity and your recollection of that activity to confirm your identity! I introduce to you project ActivPass. Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and the University of Texas at Austin created this app to monitor smartphone activity and use an algorithm to mine activity for events that could be used for passwords.

For example, ActivPass might ask the user the identity of the first person who messaged this morning or what terms the user “googled” yesterday.

The researchers ran into a problem, however, finding that people have bad memories of anything after about a day, so recent activity is most useful. The questions should be unique but not so obscure to not jog the user’s memory.

Sound verification: Startup company SlickLogin created an app that would recognize sounds. When a user needs to be authenticated, a website plays an almost inaudible, unique sound that the app “hears.” If the app recognizes the sound, the user’s credentials are verified.

Veins: Everyone has a unique vein pattern in the palms of their hands and BiyoWallet has already created a way for users to pay for things at retail shops by placing their palms onto an infrared scanner. According to the company’s website, “recreating a hand with flowing blood is practically impossible.”

Stomach: It seems there’s a pill for everything. Motorola has created a pill that has the potential to turn a person into a walking authentication device. The pill is activated by stomach acid and then emits a signal to communicate with various devices, but only if the pill is still inside the body. Simply pick up your smartphone or grasp your car door’s handle to be automatically authenticated.

And, of course, this pill is already approved by the FDA!

About the Author

Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.

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