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Wearable technology will bury the password, says Symantec

Just don't forget to put your watch on
Thu Mar 20 2014, 14:11

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY could eventually eliminate our need for cumbersome and hard to remember passwords, according to security firm Symantec.

Perversely, despite the increased risks of privacy violations from both hackers and sneaky companies looking to sell your data, technology like smart glasses, watches and hats could be used to create better, more accurate and contextually aware security protocols than those that now rely on password protection.

Speaking at the Wearable Technology Show, Symantec technical specialist Sian John said that passwords are "frankly rubbish", adding that we only continue to use them because they're easy to use.

Speaking with The INQUIRER after her talk at the show, John elaborated, "It's looking at how you can put together a more usable and engaging authentication mechanism."

She said that with a bit of collaboration in the information technology industry around security standards, it will be feasible to have devices from different brands all talking to each other and a central security system to verify that a person is who they say they are. "If you've got collaboration, you can end up with a sort of personal area network. If you've got your phone, your Fitbit and your Google Glass all in the same place, the actual proximity of those things can help us know that it's you," she explained.

However, John said that this sort of technology is in its infancy. "It'll take a while to achieve because it's part of the wider need to make authentication across the infrastructure more affordable.

"We're struggling to make that fit with the consumerised world. If you've got an iPhone that tries to connect to a corporate network you know the challenges. It works, but it's about usability."

In the end, she said, people will always try to take the shortest route to authentication, so if biometric or contextual security is too slow, they will try to find another route. She said that is what is preventing firms from trying more ambitious security practices.

The INQUIRER is running a debate this week on the rise of the Internet of Things  that is powering wearable technology development. We'd like to hear your views on whether the Internet of Things will kill privacy, or whether user data collected by smart devices will be adequately protected. You can vote for or against these propositions here. µ


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