Mar 12, 2013

Could wearable authentication tokens replace passwords?

I saw that Google is testing a ring that acts as an authentication token. Obviously, a fair number of businesses use physical authentication tokens, but as far as I know they haven't been adopted for individual private use. Ok, I'm sure there are a few people out there using them, but I've never met them.  I like the concept - just buy your secret decoder ring and never have to worry about it again. Could this be the solutiuon to the problems with compromised passwords that seem to be happening more and more often?

That'll work great, until people lose their ring or whatever. How many cell phones are lost each year? Laptops? Sometimes carrying a password around in your head is a lot better than carrying a physical object that can be stolen, lost or destroyed.

I assume you saw a piece about the ring Google showed at the RSA conference. The way I understand it, Google is using the ring to authenticate the USB token in a USB dongle, so the actual token isn't wearable in this example.

NFC chips are pretty cheap, so I doubt the cost would be very high to implement a wearable solution for authentication. However, unless you want to also keep track of the dongle all the time too, there would need to be acceptance of a hardware standard so that it could be incorporated into multiple devices.

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