Today’s highly anticipated Apple event unveiled the newest line of iPhones as well as Touch ID biometric privacy protection, the latest attempt to reimagine passwords using unique physical human features.
In recent months, and after a host of high-profile hacks, a number of startups have challenged the notion that the common tech user needs to memorize a myriad of passwords to manage multiple accounts. Of course, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, among others have made it easy to use their respective logins to connect and streamline your accounts. But, by putting all of your eggs in one basket, you risk diluting your account security, making it easier for a hacker to breach your entire digital life by uncovering one login.
One of the new breed of password-replacing authentication services is the Nymi bracelet from Toronto-based Bionym Inc. This impressive device is still a prototype, but it works by registering your unique electrocardiogram, your heartbeat, to authenticate your identity. By syncing up the Nymi with your smart devices, you’ll never have to remember passwords again; just being yourself is enough proof of who you are.
Instead of using a bracelet as a key, other startups have proposed using your phone as the means of authentication. Clef, a password replacement service, uses your phone to generate unique keys that only enable access to password-protected sites through the app. A similar service, LaunchKey, replaces passwords by requiring authentication via push notifications directly from your smartphone.
The important thing to remember if you’re using your phone as the gateway to your digital world is if it’s breached, your entire online identity could be at risk. Apple’s new biometric solution will help, but not everyone has an iPhone. No matter what smartphone you have, it’s important to protect your device.
“About half of smartphone customers don’t set up a passcode on their device, and they really should,” said Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design Jony Ive during today’s event.
Unfortunately, the products and services listed above can be not only cost prohibitive, but because of different partnerships and compatibilities, they may not work with the accounts or devices you’re looking to rid of password protection. Fortunately, there are other services that can help you keep your logins under control.
In the past, we’ve advised our readers to vary passwords across accounts, and to keep them as unique as possible. Of course, by varying your passwords you’ll find that it’s a lot to remember. Services like Dashlane and LastPass come highly recommended as free ways to keep your information secure and easy to manage. For a more robust list featuring both free and paid password management programs, check out this list.
While the new iPhone provides an impressive integration of security hardware and software, it will be interesting to see how biometrics catch on with other smartphone manufacturers, or if we’ll be doomed to remember a massive amount of usernames and passwords for years to come.
(h/t NY Times Bits Blog)