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Posted Jul 18th, 2012

Web Passwords May Be Replaced By Biometric Data

By Dominic Basulto, Washington Post
Posted July 17, 2012

The Web needs a new password — as in an entirely new system for securing information.

The Yahoo password fiasco is merely the latest in a series of incidents involving nearly all of the most trusted names on the Internet. Companies such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Facebook have all been hacked at some point. There are probably many more instances we don’t even know about. Chances are, last week, you received urgent messages from numerous other sites that depend on these core Web companies for user authentication, reminding you to update your passwords.

If you think about it, the current Internet password system, where the best security relies on memorizing dozens of long and at times non-sensical series of numbers, letter and symbols, is antiquated. No wonder the most common password to surface in Yahoo’s latest breach is 123456, at least according to a program created by CNET’s Declan McCullagh . Think about it, how different are passwords today from the days of Shakespeare, when the night watchmen in “Hamlet” traded matching codes in order to identify fellow members of the night watch?

No wonder many have been predicting the death of the Internet password. In fact, at the end of 2011, IBM made “the death of the password” one of its five major tech trends to follow in 2012. As IBM Fellow David Nahamoo explained, the Internet password is about to be replaced by biometrics:

Over the next five years, your unique biological identity and biometric data — facial definitions, iris scans, voice files, even your DNA — will become the key to safeguarding your personal identity and information and replace the current user ID and password system.

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