Google Aims To Eliminate Need For Passwords, Looks To Cryptography

Most of us have dozens of passwords to remember, including for multiple email accounts, Google, Facebook, online banking and credit card accounts, services like Dropbox and Evernote, and on and on, and it’s simply a pain. It can be difficult to create a strong password that you’ll actually remember, and it’s not smart to use the same password for multiple accounts, so you end up with dozens of complex passwords that are as unique as snowflakes.

Worse, even with good passwords, you can still be cracked, hacked, or phished. Security measures such as two-factor authentication help, but facing two or three screens before you can log into to your checking account is time-consuming and annoying.

Google cryptography
Secure USB key (Image credit: Google, via Wired)

Google is tackling this issue by looking into using cryptography. According to Wired, which apparently got a sneak peek at a paper a pair of high-ranking Googlers will soon be publishing in IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, that could include USB cryptography cards, a smart card-embedded ring, or authenticated devices such as your smartphone to securely log in to your online accounts.

Wired compares devices like a cryptographic USB card or authenticated smartphone to a “car key” for your online life; without it, nothing can start. (Unless, to follow the metaphor, you get hotwired.)

While a USB card would be a physical key of sorts, other devices such as a smart ring would use some sort of wireless protocol, which Google is reportedly developing. Wired says that the protocol would not be a Google product per se, indicating that it would work on any site that implements the measure.

This technology can’t come soon enough. Hopefully in just a few years we’ll be laughing about the bad old days of usernames and passwords.