Authentication Systems – The End of Passwords?

There are many ways in which the internet has made our lives simpler and expanded our horizons. It allows us to connect easily with people from across the globe, organise our banking transactions wherever in the world we are and buy whatever we need whenever we need it with just the touch of a button.

It has though built a society that is wholly reliant on passwords and PINs, an almost endless array of numbers and letters that require memorising before we are able to access the benefits that the web brings. Children’s names, pets, favourite sports and (incredibly) ‘123456’ are the most commonly used. For those that are safety conscious though, as we all should be, your password will instead be something more complicated; the date and location of your first kiss perhaps, or your children’s combined age minus the date you got married plus the year that Wolverhampton Wanderers won their first FA Cup (1893 for those of you that are interested). Whatever you choose and however difficult you try to make your passwords and PINs, there are still very real risks in using them.

At Digital Pathways we have the solution to protecting your passwords, and sanity, thanks to the simple, memorable and highly secure authentication solution, PINgrid. A highly intuitive system, PINgrid works on pattern recognition, utilising the theory that humans are able to remember patterns far better than written data. When logging on to a system that uses PINgrid a user is presented with grid filled with squares. Each square contains a number in a seemingly random sequence. By mentally placing your chosen pattern over the grid you are then able to determine a passcode based on the numbers that your pattern covers. Each time you login these numbers will change, leaving you always with a One Time Code. Though the pattern stays the same, the code is unique to you, therefore negating the need for passwords or PINs.

Primarily this is useful in relieving stress, as memorising a single pattern far outweighs having to learn individual codes in terms of simplicity. There is also the security angle too. The general consensus seems to be that our Personal Identification Numbers are private, a notion that is compounded by the way that banks send our PIN and card separately. The problem with this is that we are also under the illusion that this privacy continues once the card is in use. Yes you may be protected from prying eyes before you receive your card and PIN, but the second you use it you are sharing your number with those around you, with the CCTV cameras that loom over cash points and with the wealth of devices that surround us. Your PIN is definitely a shared secret.

There is truly innovative technology out there that can severally reduce the amount of identity theft suffered by users all over the world. There are though a number of issues that need to be overcome before authentication systems such as PINgrid become mainstream. Integration is obviously key, with every cashpoint and online login portal requiring new hardware and software to perform. There is also the cost to the user too in terms of the devices they would need in order to create each One Time Code. Lastly, therefore, is user acceptance. Despite its obvious flaws and frustrations, passwords and PINs have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Such a radical movement away from this now traditional means of identification to a more visually orientated method could prove disorientating and difficult for many, despite its infinite ease.

We will continue to source strong authentication technology for the clients who are willing to embrace such a system, until such a time that it can be mass produced for the general population. Hopefully then the systems of hiding your password under a keyboard, mousepad or the underside of a desk can be a thing of the past and a solution such as PINgrid will be the norm.

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