A Future Without Passwords


Online Authentication

by Maria Korolov

Managing multiple usernames and passwords for many online platforms can be a hassle, and therefore also less secure. For that reason, in the future online authentication won’t involve keying any login credentials, some technology experts say.

Certainly, biometric authentication security systems that use an individual’s unique physical characteristics—including fingerprints, voice prints, iris scans and even heartbeat patterns—are increasing in variety and application. Biometric systems are not considered invulnerable, but the search is underway to develop universally accepted biometric authentication systems that are easy to use, widely accepted online and offline, and secure all by themselves.

Some current multipurpose biometric systems—where a person could use a single system with any device for any online account or website—rely on state driver’s license photo records for confirming a person’s identity. These systems allow a person to access an account or online service by taking a selfie on his or her smartphone.

Several biometric authentication systems are used now in a combination of passwords and device IDs. However, the eventual goal for developers is to create “interoperable” systems that are widely accepted by consumers and the public and private sectors to replace username-and-password logins altogether. Soon Android and iOS smartphones will accept some of these systems as authentication options for their device users.

When it comes to moving past login passwords, all the pieces of technology are nearly there. Now it’s just a matter of time before those pieces will be put together.

Maria Korolov