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Innovation

A visual spin to password technology

Passfaces, a security firm, is betting on using the human brain's innate ability to remember faces as the crux for replacing text-based passwords. The technology lets users choose three face pictures as their password, and the authentication mechanism (BCS) consists of selecting the pictures from an array of seven to nine pictures.

The company claims that it's far easier for humans to recollect faces than passwords. "We know a familiar face within 20 milliseconds," claims Shaun Frome, managing director of ACAL, the UK distributor for Passfaces.

Also, the array of pictures (Pocket-lint.co.uk) that are displayed to the user are jumbled around every time they are displayed, making automated hacking tougher. You can try the technology at the Passfaces site.

There was a similar technology (Help Net Security) demonstrated at the Web 2.0 Expo at San Francisco by a company Vidoop. Users had to select a sequence of categories such as cars, airplanes, and keys, and then they would be shown pictures of items from these categories mixed with other unrelated pictures. The user had to use the access codes obtained beside the images of their categories for authentication.

More information:

Vidoop : A new way to secure and monetize networks (Mashable)

Sanity check: Can the Vidoop visual grid replace password authentication?(TechRepublic)

The visual password models claim to be able to thwart automated password cracking, which plagues text-based passwords. Also, there are added advantages of not having to remember lengthy passwords. The Web community is (by and large) used to the concept of text-based passwords, but what would you really prefer? Take the poll.

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