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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Finding the ­nique in You to Build a Better Password

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Security passwords

Stuart Goldenberg

As more users store sensitive data on smartphones, mobile devices could become a target for hackers, prompting technology companies and the U.S. government to rethink the way users log onto their devices.

IBM recently predicted that traditional passwords may become a thing of the past. "Biometric data--facial definitions, retinal scans, and voice files--will be composited through software to build your DNA unique online password," IBM says.

However, biometric passwords also have security issues. The most serious problem with biometrics is that once a biometric signature has been compromised, it is impossible to replace it, says Imperva researcher Tal Be'ery.

This problem has led the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop ways to identify device owners and account holders using unique behaviors such as hand gestures and typing styles.

Meanwhile, Microsoft recently released a behavioral password system for the Windows 8 operating system. "When the types, ordering, and directionality are all correct, we take a look at how far off each gesture was from the ones we’ve seen before, and decide if it’s close enough to authenticate you," says Microsoft's Zach Pace.

From New York Times
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