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Google mulls reboot of the humble password

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By John Glenday | Reporter

January 21, 2013 | 2 min read

Having mastered search, maps and mobile software (if not quite social networks) Google is set to train its considerable intellectual and financial firepower on devising a means to rid the world of one of its fastest growing problems – passwords.

With alphanumerical strings of characters now near ubiquitous to access anything from your bank account to online shopping Google is keen to devise a less irksome process – and more secure to boot.

Amongst the ideas broached by the tech giant are a number of ‘passdevices’ including an electronic key worn on the finger and a key card that plugs into any USB port which could then retrieve passwords from computers or the cloud.

Perhaps most promisingly Google is also investigating means of turning a smartphone to access sensitive data through insertion of a customised chip which could access computers and email when in Wi-fi range.

Although not available as of yet Google has introduced a two-step authentication process which sends a log-in code to your phone whenever an account is accessed from an unfamiliar computer.

In a research paper Google said: “We'd like your smartphone or smartcard-embedded finger ring to authorise a new computer via a tap on the computer, even in situations in which your phone might be without cellular connectivity.”

A Google spokesperson said: "We're focused on making authentication more secure, and yet easier to manage. We believe experiments like these can help make login systems better.”

Critics argue that an additional layer of complexity is likely to prove a turn-off for most users with worries that savvy criminals won’t be long in pinching such gadgets or hacking into them.

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