BreakingModern — In today’s digital world, the only thing usually separating your personal online accounts from anybody else is your password. And passwords just aren’t very effective since they can be hijacked, forgotten and guessed by hackers, especially when you’re a celebrity like Paris Hilton and your password is your dog’s name.
Yet passwords may soon be a thing of the past if biometric technology continues to progress. For security access, biometric technology is the use of fingerprints, facial features and even iris markings to authorize secure access. The latest iPhones are an example, allowing owners to unlock their phones or authorize purchases on iTunes and other apps by using their fingerprints.
Hoyos Labs believes passwords will soon become unnecessary. The company is set to release 1U, an app that lets users replace usernames, passwords, PINs and the like with facial recognition.
“Utilizing technology that leverages people’s unique biometric identities (facial, periocular, fingerprint, iris, and others), like the mobile app that Hoyos Labs is about to launch for smartphones, completely eliminates the need for all usernames, passwords, PINS and tokens that are currently required by your favorite online accounts and websites,” said Hector Hoyos, chief executive of Hoyos Labs.
1U doesn’t entirely replace passwords. Users must first use a password to log in to each online service. But after that, all future access to an online account is done by having the app scan your face with the phone’s camera. You can set different levels of biometric security for each account, including quick face scans, or a “liveness” scan, which requires the user to provide additional features like moving eyes or smiling.
Is It Unhackable?
Two days after Apple released its fingerprint-scanning feature for the iPhone 5s, it was hacked by the Chaos Community Club. While we still have yet to see if 1U will be hacked, it looks like a much-more-difficult task. For one, I tried using a physical photo of myself but it didn’t work since a 2D picture has no topography. Hoyos said the Google Face Unlock app can be accessed by using a picture from another smartphone.
If a person went so far as to create an accurate model of a user’s face, it still wouldn’t work according to Hoyos. The model wouldn’t have pupil dilation and micro movements. Even identical twins wouldn’t be able to hack an account since they have different irises.
But what happens when you lose your phone that has the stored biometric information on it? No reason to worry said Hoyos. The data is encrypted and the app’s liveness technology prevents a thief from supplanting the biometrics of the actual owner.
“To be hacked, a hacker would need to steal your phone and biometrically identify him or herself as you, which is virtually impossible,” Hoyos said. “While ultimately nothing is fully unhackable, our platform is designed in such a way that there is no massive repository to breach, so a hacker can only compromise one targeted user at a time.”
Is Biometric Technology the Security of the Future?
1U certainly increases security, but it isn’t perfect. Users need to visit sites that require log in through the 1U app, instead of the apps or browser usually used. Plus, looking at a phone to log in to a website isn’t ideal. And, the app doesn’t protect a user from situations when a database has been breached and your username and password have been ripped off.
Still, there is plenty of research and development underway with biometric technology and it will only continue to progress and get better. Perhaps 1U is a step in the right direction toward eliminating all those pesky passwords.
“Sooner or later, and we are beyond due for this, usernames and passwords will become a thing of the past,” Hoyos said. “All we’ll need to do to access our social media profiles, withdraw money from a bank account and complete any other transaction is glance at our smartphones and have our biometrics recognized to securely and conveniently log in and complete the activity.”
For BMod, I’m Chandler Harris.
First image: “Gives Ya The Big Eye” by Randen Pederson via Flickr Creative Commons
Second image: “Eye and finger” by Leszek Leszczynski via Flickr Creative Commons
Feature/Header image: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons