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Could a Picture Be Worth a Thousand Passwords?


From an IT solutions standpoint, there are two big problems with passwords. 

The first is that they need to be complex in order to offer maximum security benefits. Simply using your pet’s name in all lowercase letters is no longer a viable password option.

A strong password should be a unique, impossible-to-guess string of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and characters.
The other problem is that you need to create a different password for every account you have. Meaning, it isn’t okay to use the same password for both your electric bill and your Netflix account.

The result is that you’re asked to remember what could amount to hundreds of individual passwords just so that you can go about your daily life. Most of us ignore the recommendation that we never reuse passwords, not because we are uninterested in protecting ourselves from data theft, but simply because we cannot remember hundreds of complex, unique passwords.

Picture Passwords as IT Security Solutions

A new app developed by Australian teenager Sam Crowther, uSig, looks to simplify the problem by letting users select pictures instead of strings of characters as their password. The app can transform a picture into an almost impossible-to-guess, 512-character password. Crowther debuted the app during the annual PasswordsCon last fall.

How could a picture-password app make life simpler for users?

Pictures are more memorable. It is pretty difficult for most people to remember a meaningless (or almost meaningless), complex string of characters. But because of the brain’s superior ability to process visual information, it’s quite easy to recall that your password is your favorite photo of your cat. And if you’re like most people, who keep hundreds or thousands of photos on their phones, it becomes extremely difficult for a stranger to choose the correct one.

Picture passwords also offer enhanced protection against malware. Many malware programs use keylogging software to steal data. Crowther’s app helps to prevent that type of theft by always changing the location of the picture on the screen, rendering keylogging software useless.

An Eye Toward Cybersecurity

In a world where data breaches are becoming the norm, innovative IT solutions like the picture-password app, which move away from traditional passwords, are increasingly valuable. While experts warn that uSig is unproven, it could be an important step forward in the fight for cybersecurity.

Jill AlJundi

Written by

Jill AlJundi is the vice president of operations for Pendello Solutions, a Kansas City-based company providing business technology management to small and medium-sized businesses. (913) 677-6744 // jaljundi@pendello.com// www.pendello.com

Categories: Tech


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