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blog | July 8, 2014

PASTWORDS: Will Technology Render Passwords Useless?

By Rachael Hess

Will passwords soon go the way of Blockbuster and VHS tapes? The engineers at Google believe so, and are currently working on various email authentication technologies that will provide better protection from hackers.

But it’s not just our emails getting hacked.  “Passwords everywhere don’t work,” writes Rebecca Greenfield of The Wire. “With every new massive account info hack, companies will start adopting better technologies for protecting our user data, until one day the password is as much a relic as the floppy disk.” If successful, Google will have capitalized on a groundbreaking technological advancement, beneficial for both big businesses and average users alike. But what will this post-password era actually look like?

In reality, it is unlikely passwords will disappear completely. They just won’t be the only line of defense. Google’s new two-step authentication process involves a password and an ever-changing code sent to the user’s mobile phone via text. Experts predict this method will gain popularity, considering the ubiquity of mobile phones today. Shifting the technology, codes could also be provided via pop-up alerts (similar to those of a weather app) or an authenticator app that generates a new code every ten seconds.

Down the line, it is possible that computers will recognize us without the middleman. The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency has discussed the idea of measuring keystrokes, a technology that determines you are indeed the person you say you are, just by the way you type. Other advanced technologies, like vocal, retinal and facial recognition, have also been discussed. One idea Google expects will grow in popularity is a physical key users carry around that contains their important information. This technology is already utilized by government organizations, and even World of Warcraft users.

As a leading digital agency, Imaginuity recognizes that website protection is more crucial today than ever before. With the exorbitant amount of new technology we encounter, it is hard to imagine the simple username/password format standing the test of time. We believe it’s only a matter of time until a more technologically-savvy method becomes dominant. Whether or not passwords will be included in that equation, only time will tell.

At least for now, the password has not completely perished, and has proved relatively useful in our post-modern society. The future looks bleak for hackers, when hopefully computers can recognize us by touch alone. Until then, we will continue brainstorming clever combinations of birthdays, addresses and pet names.