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Google wants to replace the password with an electronic ring that grants access to all web content

Published Jan 18th, 2013 11:25AM EST
Google Password Replacement

This is one of the better ideas that Google’s (GOOG) engineering team has concocted lately: a smartcard-embedded finger ring that uniquely identifies users on the web and thus eliminates the need to remember countless complex passwords. Wired has a lengthy piece that details what it calls Google’s “war on the password” and reveals that Google wants to create a one-stop authentication device that users can simply tap against their smartphones, tablets or PCs to give them access to any password-protected websites that they regularly visit.

Specifically, Wired reports that in a forthcoming paper written for IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, Google engineers will outline how they envision “your smartphone or smartcard-embedded finger ring [being able to] authorize a new computer via a tap on the computer, even in situations in which your phone might be without cellular connectivity.”

Google’s reasons for wanting to change how we access data on the web are easy enough to understand, especially for those of us who have to remember multiple complicated passwords to access our bank accounts, Amazon accounts and countless other websites that have become staples of modern living.

However, Wired notes that the biggest challenge for Google’s password-killing initiative will come from websites who have long been comfortable using the password model and who might be reluctant to throw it away in favor of a radically different new system.

“Others have tried similar approaches but achieved little success in the consumer world,” the Google engineers write in the forthcoming paper. “Although we recognize that our initiative will likewise remain speculative until we’ve proven large scale acceptance, we’re eager to test it with other websites.”

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.