Barclays phone banking customers will be able to use voice recognition technology instead of passwords as security checks. So are we seeing the beginning of the end of passwords?
The name of a first pet, a river in Northumberland or the first song played at your wedding may seem to have little in common. But they are all among the things people in our office have used to create online security passwords…
In my own case, you could probably put together a fairly accurate (though not very interesting) biography of my life from passwords I’ve used over the years. I must confess, I’ve previously raided family names, nicknames and birthdays in an effort to make them memorable.
This is of course a classic security error. While it might be pretty tough to guess the name of the first song at your wedding (in this case the unfortunately named ‘Runaway’ by The Corrs), family names are all too easy to guess or find out.
But let’s face it, when you have to come up with and remember passwords for dozens of different websites many of us have at some time taken a security shortcut.
Although it’s still hard to believe that the three most used passwords of last year were‘123456’, ‘qwerty’ and ‘password’…
We’ve previously set our computer helpdesk the challenge of creating the perfect online password but even if you do create secure and unguessable passwords, there is the question of how many you actually need to have.
There’s no getting around it, having to remember multiple passwords is a pain, which is perhaps one reason many people now use password manager websites.
Another shortcut some try is to either use the same two or three passwords across different sites, which of course has its own issues. And I’ve even heard of people who use different groups of passwords for different sites – different types of animals for financial sites for example. Though even then you’ve still got to remember whether cat or dog means NatWest.
The end of the password?
Well alternatives to passwords seem certain to play an ever-increasing role. Other banks, including HSBC, are set to follow with using voice recognition, while other websites, apps and phones are starting to use fingerprints to verify identities.
But for now it certainly seems that passwords and the problem of creating ones that are both secure and easy to remember are set to stay for now.
Do you have a failsafe system for remembering your passwords? Would you be happy to see the back of them?