28 April 2015

Making Passwords Easy to Digest

I am all for making security easy to digest but actually eating passwords is taking thing a step too far in my book.We have all seen the movies where someone eats a piece of paper containing the evidence, but does anyone seriously think this could be the future of authentication? It seems there are people that do!

Security professionals are familiar with the ‘traditional’ authentication factors such as...
  • Something you have – A key-ring token for example
  • Something you know – The username and password combination
  • Something you are – The biometric in all its forms
However, last week some new factors were proposed…
  • Something you have eaten
  • Something you have implanted
  • Something you have injected
These concepts have been mooted in the past as a flight of fantasy, but now PayPals’ Global Head of Developer Evangelism, Jonathan Leblanc has suggested to the Wall Street Journal that ‘natural body identification’ in the form of edible, injectable and implanted devices, could well be the shape of things to come, with current biometric techniques a stepping stone. For those of you old enough to get the reference, it is all starting to sound a little ‘Logan’s Run’ to me!

Whilst I appreciate that our industry need visionaries to help break the stranglehold passwords have on our lives, it is also important that we don’t get carried away. Passwords have been used for hundreds of years in one form or another and whilst people are tired of them, I believe this type of talk is not at all helpful in moving the conversation forward.

Yes, this type of story does grab the headlines but the truth is why would anyone want to use these proposed forms of identification? Especially when there are methods available today that are proven to be practical, affordable and far less invasive. Also, whilst an ingested tablet may be able to identity you that isn’t the same as authenticating you, and in most scenarios we find ourselves in today, it isn’t just about proving that we are who we say we are, but also, that we have the permissions to do what we want to do. 
So, I hope this in years to come it will be those who suggest such crazy ideas that are eating their words and not consuming passwords!

Author: Alissa Lang, Winfrasoft


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