Verizon eyes QR codes as authentication option

Summary:Can the QR code replace user names and passwords? Verizon Enterprise thinks so -- at least for some companies looking at two-factor authentication.

Verizon Enterprise on Tuesday is launching QR codes as a two-factor authentication option in its universal identity service. What's unclear is how many companies will see the handy QR code as a way to help eradicate user names and passwords.

The telecom giant developed a QR code login that would allow a customer or employee to scan a QR code on a website with their smartphone without a user name or password. User names and passwords are a major security issue since few people use two-factor authentication and most passwords are reused across multiple sites. The QR code would get people into accounts without passwords.

Here's how it works:

  • Customers could enroll for a Verizon Universal ID from a web page. 
  • After registering, the customer would download an app that would scan a dynamically generated QR code on a login page. 
  • Once a user scanned the code and Verizon confirmed the identity, he would be authenticated.



Tracy Hulver, chief identity strategist for Verizon, noted that QR codes could be used as a sole way into a site or app or combined with a PIN code. At an ATM, a user could scan a QR code to tap funds instead of entering a PIN and risking a skimmer. Hulver said enterprises have been interested in QR codes as a way to ditch passwords, but are also looking at other options. 

Must See Gallery

Tax refund buying guide: 10 mobile devices from $150 to $17,000

With the average American getting nearly $3,000 of their money back from the government many are looking to treat themselves to a new mobile device. Matthew Miller has ten recommendations for you.

"A QR code is an option, but not the only one," said Hulver, who added that a QR code can be easy to use.

Should Verizon customers start using QR codes, one interesting aspect of this form of two-factor authentication would be ease of use. For instance, I scan QR codes, but infrequently. The extra click and opening of an app means I have to be motivated to get the information.

Meanwhile, the QR code setup means you have to have your phone with you at all times. Most of us always have a phone, but an online retailer could see a QR code as one more friction point in the buying process.


Topics: Security, Verizon


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.