What is a fingerprint scanner? Passwords could be a thing of the past

When was the last time you went to a website you haven’t been to in months or years and attempted to log in? You were forced to think back to last year and your most popular password you used for all your accounts. We’re told to change our passwords often, so if you try to log in with a newer variation of your old password, congratulations, you’re listening. But that still doesn’t help you access the old account. That’s one problem with passwords.

Passwords can also be hacked and cracked. If you’re the guy or gal  who uses ‘abcd1234’ on ANY website or device login, SHAME ON YOU. Hackers can easily apply a program to nearly anything out there that will crack the password. It starts with the most basic combinations. ‘abcd1234’ is much easier to break than ‘AbC$D1+23_4!’ So if you’re in this camp, leave the island and change your password to include numbers, letters and symbols.

What if we didn’t need passwords at all?

So what if we did away with passwords for good? What if our fingerprint was all that was required to access and and all accounts and devices? What is a fingerprint scanner? Let’s take a look:

PayPal is awfully good at safeguarding your information, in my opinion. And they should be. They control the online accounts of 113 million users worldwide and allow them to transfer money back and forth, second by second.

So it wasn’t a surprise that PayPal’s Chief Information Security Office Michael Barrett discussed ‘what’s ahead’ for internet and device security in his recent Interop keynote address in Las Vegas.

“Passwords, when used ubiquitously everywhere at Internet scale are starting to fail us. Users will pick poor passwords and then they’ll reuse them everywhere,” Barrett said.

Barrett is the current president of the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance. FIDO addresses the lack of interoperability among strong authentication devices as well as the problems users face with creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords. FIDO has created a protocol that allows users a choice of authentication methods while shifting control to providers who can make authentication user-transparent and limit the risk of fraud. Fingerprint scanning technology is a big part of it and Barrett hints that the technology could be the norm for internet and device security in the future.

Fingerprint scanning on iPhone?

Barrett hinted that Apple will do its part to help take FIDO to the masses.

“It’s widely rumored that a large technology provider in Cupertino, California, will come out with a phone later this year that has a fingerprint reader on it,” he said. “There is going to be a fingerprint enabled phone on the market later this year. Not just one…but multiple.”

Barrett commented that this trend wouldn’t occur overnight, however.

“These kinds of trends take a while,” he said. “We’re in this world-changing moment, but it’s going to take several years before you see real, mass turning of the ship. But the ship is turning.”

So until the day of fingerprint swiping everything in our daily lives, now may be the best time to log into Twitter, Facebook Pinterest, Wells Fargo, iTunes or whatever it is you visit often, and change that password! Good luck.

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Josh Benson

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