Is a no-password online world possible?

We have all found ourselves scratching our heads at some point or another wondering what the password is for a particular character. We’ve tried our birthday, put a capital letter at the start and added an exclamation mark at the end, all to no avail.

The only thing left is the password reset, only to be told that we’ve tried to create a password that has already been used. It is no wonder that people are now considering whether it is possible to live in a world where passwords are a thing of the past.

Password failings

One of the biggest mistakes that we all make with our passwords, is that we make them too easy to guess, or we find one good one and use it for everything. This does not create much of a barrier for hackers, who can quickly and easily gain access to all of your personal data, causing havoc and costing thousands of pounds. Despite the dangers, many people still opt for “password”, “123456” or “qwerty” as their password, leaving them extremely vulnerable from a security perspective.

Password alternatives

We have relied on passwords for a long time to keep things secure, so if these are now a dying factor, what can be used to replace them? Many apps and websites are now introducing multi-factor authorisation, which requires an extra layer of identification in order to log in. This might be providing extra information, texting a verification code to your phone, or giving authorisation for the access through another device.

There is also increasing use of biometric security. You will probably have already experienced this with your smart phone, which can scan your face or fingerprint to check that it is really you.

Passphrases are also popping up in a range of places. These take the same approach as a password, but use a short phrase, such as “iwatchfootballinthepark”. The length of this makes it much harder to guess, but not too difficult to remember.

Some larger banks and technology companies are also testing systems that will contact you if you use a new IP address to login or monitor the speed at which you type to try and spot a hacker in action. They are also looking at ways in which you can verify your identity at different points while you use their sites, rather than just when you login.

In addition to these options, there is also the opportunity to use a physical security key. This will usually take the form of a USB drive which plugs into your computer and includes an encryption that is unique to you and your device. Whilst this can protect you against hackers, it is also easy to lose, so it is important to keep it in a safe space.

Luke Watts, Managing Director of RoundWorks IT commented on the topic, “Passwords may become obsolete over time, but they are certainly here to stay in the short term, so it is important to use them carefully. Keep them varied and difficult to guess, using a mixture of capital letters numbers and characters. Some experts recommend combining three random words to make your password even more unique, as including your address, the name of your children or the family dog can still be easy to work out.”

Technology is likely to change over the next few years to incorporate more and more of these password alternatives. By asking for something that is unique to you, it stands a greater chance of remaining secure, and cuts down on the ability to share access to paid subscription accounts. Get ready for a new world of authorisation but keep your passwords handy for now.

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