Technalysis Research
Previous Blogs

September 8, 2014
Insider Extra: SanDisk--Driving Flash Forward

September 2, 2014
Smart Connected Devices: A New Forecast

August 26, 2014
Phablets—aka Pocket Computers—Drive New World Order

August 19, 2014
Device Usage Diversity

August 12, 2014
New Life for the PC

August 5, 2014
Hot Items for the Holidays: Large Phones, Notebooks and Smart TVs

July 29, 2014
Smartphones: Life's Remote Control

July 22, 2014
The Joy of Vintage Tech

July 15, 2014
Digital Generation Gap

July 8, 2014
Virtualization Reborn

July 1, 2014
Portable Digital Identities

June 24, 2014
The Future of UI: Contextual Intelligence

June 17, 2014
Moving to Markets of One

June 16, 2014
Insider Extra: Dell and the Battle for Business

June 10, 2014
Screen Overload to Drive Screen-less Devices

June 3, 2014
Apple Drives Vision of Seamless Multi-Device Computing

May 27, 2014
Surface Pro 3: The Future of PCs?

May 22, 2014
Insider Extra: SanDisk: The Many Faces of Flash

May 20, 2014
The Technological Divining Rod

May 13, 2014
Computing in the Cloud

May 6, 2014
Device Usage a Question of Degree

April 29, 2014
The Next Smartphone Battleground: Durability

April 22, 2014
BYOD: A Work in Progress

April 18, 2014
Insider Extra: AMD Back in the Groove

April 15, 2014
The Mobility Myth

April 9, 2014
BYOD Dilemma: Devices vs. Data

April 8, 2014
Insider Extra: Qualcomm's Evolving Story

April 1, 2014
A Wearables Forecast

March 25, 2014
Measuring Success in Wearables? It's Thousands of Thousands

March 24, 2014
Insider Extra: Intel Strategy Moves Forward

March 18, 2014
IOT: Islands of Isolated Things?

March 11, 2014
Wearables Cautionary Tale

March 4, 2014
The New Platform Battle

February 25, 2014
Watch What Happens

February 18, 2014
Talkin' 'bout Touchpads

February 11, 2014
The MultiOS Conundrum

February 4, 2014
Computing Redefined

January 28, 2014
The Apple Problem

January 21, 2014
The 2-in-1s People Might Want

January 14, 2014
The Post Tablet Era

January 7, 2014
The Innovation Asymptote

December 31, 2013
Top 5 2014 Predictions

December 17, 2013
Holiday Shoppers Gifting Themselves

December 10, 2013
Companion Apps

December 3, 2013
Aisle Check

TECHnalysis Research Blog

September 9, 2014
The Password Dilemma

Security-related issues have come to the fore recently and focused a harsh light on some of the methods that companies use to try and protect your data and/or identity. The consistent theme throughout virtually all these methods is the use of passwords and the problems associated with them.

Recent efforts have been focused on using more challenging passwords that contain a minimum number of capital letters, non-alphabet letters and so on. There’s also a lot of attention being paid to two-factor authentication, which often boils down to having two different passwords (although, sometimes one is supplied by an outside party). The simple fact of the matter is that passwords are a horribly outdated, unnatural way of trying to secure data. They are clearly a solution designed by engineers for other engineers, yet have managed to survive and seep into our consciousness to the point where many people think they’re the only realistic option.

Real people, on the other hand, don’t mesh particularly well with passwords. We’ve all heard the stories about the horrendous over usage of the most common passwords (12345, pa$$word, etc.), but even people who figure out clever password combinations can’t typically remember more than about 1 or 2 of them. So, they keep using those same clever passwords over and over, which defeats the purpose of clever passwords in the first place. Given the increasing number of places where some type of log-in are becoming necessary, this model also doesn’t scale particularly well.

There have been a few attempts to break out of our password-dependence over the last several years—notably through fingerprint readers—but they’ve yet to move into regular usage for most people. Plus, even people who use them only tend to do things like log into a single device—not all their devices or all their services or all their data stores. And, in my experience, even some of the better ones—including Apple’s TouchID—are far from consistent and far from perfect, especially when you use them for a while.

As a result, I believe it’s way past high time to get something that we can predictably, reliably use to provide safe, secure access to our entire digital persona—including all our devices and services. In fact, we need a secure, memory-independent means of adding even more data—like digital health records, commerce transactions and more—to our growing digital identities.

Given all the other amazing technical marvels we’ve seen get introduced to the market over the last several years, I’m actually shocked we haven’t seen better solutions. Part of the issue, of course, is cost. But given all the attention we’ve seen on security-related issues and, therefore, the interest in providing security across a very wide range of devices, I think the enormous potential market for some kind of hardware-based security solution will drive costs down rapidly.

Ultimately, I think some type of biometric-type approach—whether it be improved fingerprint readers, retina scanners, vein matching, or some other sensor-based technology that can positively and uniquely identify an individual—will be the winner. But the devil is in the details and accuracy levels need to improved and become more consistent before any of these technologies can go mainstream.

Beyond the hardware, we’re also going to need a lot more work on standards across devices, platforms, software and services in order to really get these kinds of solutions to take off. It’s all fine and good if a single vendor comes up with a reasonably effective technology, but unless it’s widely adopted across a wide range of companies, devices and services, it’s ultimately not that useful.

Solving this dilemma is clearly a challenging task, but given how broken our current password dependent-systems are, it’s one that needs to be tackled—and soon.

Here's a link to the original column:

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