How strong is your password? You might try Intel’s online test to find out. Password weakness is a growing problem as digital transformation and the growing universe of connected “things” challenges security and password memory. What’s the solution? Intel thinks future account security should be biological, not cryptological.
Recent security stories show tough passwords are easy to forget, while those we remember are easy to crack. It doesn’t help that the most popular passwords are “123456”, and “password”, nor that the default password on many connected devices is “1234”.
Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum, Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager Intel’s PC client group, said: "We have to eliminate passwords. You are your password."
Intel believes biometric security will be the best solution to the password conundrum. The average Internet user has eight or more passwords and 26 password-protected accounts, Intel claims.
The chip giant wants biometrics to replace passwords for your computer, devices and web sites, and will introduce voice, touch and 3D camera input solutions to enable such protection starting next year.
The company will introduce Core M mobile processors equipped with biometric support in 2015. These chips will offer 48-point face recognition, pulse and blink detection and fingerprint recognition. You’ll be able to log into your computer and sites without using a password. Intel is also working with Delta ID to develop ActiveIRIS as a biometric security solution. This scans and recognizes your iris using a front-facing camera.
Intel is not alone in following a biometric beat:
- Governments worldwide want to include biometric data on ID cards.
- Apple, Huawei and Samsung already deploy fingerprint recognition scanners on some devices.
- Barclays is developing a vein scanner with which corporate users can handle large transactions online.
- The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) possesses 30,000 "voiceprints" from individuals choosing to use their voice as biometrics in order to access some tax office services.
- Apple’s Apple Watch only supports Apple Pay payments when it is worn against the skin.
"Biometrics technology will increasingly become a part of how people interact" with PCs and mobile devices, says Intel’s Erik Reid.
part of the solution
Biometrics is unlikely to be the only security mechanism – what happens to iris scanning when a user develops an eye infection, or a person’s fingers get burned? There is also the issue of false positives and false negatives as this paper explains. Multifactor authentication means multiple security layers will be part of the overall solution.
Another challenge to tight integration between security and biometric protection is the software. For these solutions to work, tight integration between hardware and software is required. No one wants to see authentication fail because a user upgrades the OS, as happened to some fingerprint readers on Dell systems following the Windows 8.1 patch.
Intel is working to overcome such hurdles in order to ensure tight integration between biometric security protections and its hardware starting next year.
"We believe biometrics technology will increasingly become a part of how people interact with personal computing and mobile devices, enabling safer, more secure, and convenient user authentication," said Reid.
I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.