SlickLogin, an Israeli start-up acquired by Google, is set to change the way we think about passwords. With billions of dollars and man hours invested in networks and data services, Google has every reason to want to keep its customer data safe. But despite its good intentions, users don’t seem all that interested in taking elaborate steps to protect their information. In an ongoing battle similar to DRM in the video game industry, logging in to and using favorite websites has turned the keyboard into a minefield. From Captcha phrases to secret questions to limited log-in attempts, users have been put through dozens of digital obstacle courses in the interest of privacy, but always at the expense of convenience. But Google and SlickLogin are about to change all of that, with a brand-new method of securely logging in.
Requiring more steps during an information exchange provides more places where whoever is trying to log in must prove they are who they say they are, in a similar fashion to debit cards that require a PIN and a chip be provided to verify the identity of the card holder. This works at the check-out line, but computer users are slow to adopt an extra step or change in their virtual routines so adding extra security protocols to internet interactions often does not go over well.
But with SlickLogin, acquired by Google, an extra precaution that does not require extra input from the user may be on the horizon. Using the SlickLogin protocol, users log in by using their usual name and password. A signal is then sent to SlickLogin servers, which sends back an ultra high frequency sound that is played by the computer. Humans cannot hear it, but their smartphones can, and using a SlickLogin app allows the phone to speak to the computer and confirm that users are who they say they are. Since most people have their smartphones with them at all times anyway, the extra step is not even noticed, and logging in remains simple and quick. The idea is strong, and with Google backing SlickLogin, it should be able to work out any kinks that exist now or could appear in the future.
Although it is unlikely we will see this system implemented in the immediate future, the recent rash of cyber break-ins shows that more security is fast becoming a necessity. Other options to unlocking devices have received mixed reviews, like Apple’s iPhone fingerprint scanner, but SlickLogin’s idea removes the potential for abuse of highly personal identifying information. With more and more of our lives stored online, being able to keep track of who is able to access information without making it complicated for the rightful owner to access, and avoid bringing scrutiny to every move we make online, is paramount to moving forward.
With SlickLogin being acquired by Google, at the very least, people with revolutionary ideas needed to change secure log-ins for the better are in a place where they will have the resources and encouragement needed to come up with ways to keep data safe without sacrificing the ease of access expected by rightful owners.
By Daniel O’Brien