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Passwords to become fossils by 2017?

IBM's predictions for the next five years -- fossilized passwords and biometric scanning for all.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

IBM recently released its annual tradition of five predictions for five years in to the future -- among them, the belief that passwords will become redundant.

Generation Y, rejoice! No longer will you struggle with attempting to remember the password for your Facebook account, Twitter, Gmail, games networks -- the list goes on. We've all had those moments, cursing under our breath, when after three attempts you are locked out just as you remember the actual word and number combination. Or even worse, forced to fill out mud-smear captchas until your eyes start to swim.

According to IBM, future generations won't need to suffer this kind of hardship.

Not much has changed in the last five years. When it comes to computer security, most of us still rely on passwords and username log-in systems to protect our private data and access our accounts. Some companies, for example EyeNet Watch,  offer fingerprint recognition software. However, this kind of technology is rarely used by the general public.

IMB is developing technology that views facial definitions, eye scans, voice files and even DNA as personal safeguards to a far more extreme extent than now.

The company wants to replace words and numbers with security based on your biological makeup, and create unique DNA based profiles that will serve as your 'password' for a variety of tasks. These could include going to an ATM, logging in to your computer, and perhaps going as far as signing in to individual online services like Facebook or Twitter.

By using personal data that is far more difficult to forge than simply guessing or learning a password, IBM believes this type of security will be far more appealing than the memory-based approach currently employed.

That is, if people want it. Personally, I'm not keen on the idea of more DNA profiles, even for security measures. It smacks of the U.K government's failure to introduce biometric I.D cards. A question we probably don't ask ourselves enough is: how much personal information are we comfortable for organisations to hold on us?

We are yet to see whether this kind of technology, which is likely to be far more expensive to produce, will make its way in to the general public market -- or whether it will remain firmly in the grip of security companies and elitist technology.

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