18 Sep This could be the most secure password ever
In the wake of serious security breaches in the last year, from the pilfering of Target customers’ credit card information to the celebrity iCloud selfie-hack, it’s easy to feel digitally naked. Your current best options—like making your password something along the lines of “**_^XBE47>>” or using two-step verification—also have their shortcomings, which has inspired a crop of enterprising scientists to come up with what must be the oddest, and possibly most secure, password yet: the rhythm of your heart.
A team of Toronto scientists has developed a wristband that can use your own heart rhythm, as measured by electrocardiograms (ECG), as an authenticator for everything from accessing email to unlocking cell phones and other gadgets. In a recent talk at the TEDMED conference in Washington and San Francisco, biometric security engineer Foteini Agrafioti told audiences that because our hearts are so unique—from their size to their orientation in the chest to how they pump our blood—they may be the perfect security “password.” The ECG-authenticating wristband, Nymi, is available for preorder on the company’s website for $79.
“We want to make authentication easy and for it to melt into the background,” says Karl Martin, CEO and founder of Nymi’s parent company Bionym. That’s what sets it apart from, say, Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint authenticator, which requires a person to prove themselves with every transaction, instead of being constantly read.
The company is now working on partnerships with password platforms, payment systems and travel companies with the hopes that this kind of ECG reading might soon be seamlessly adopted.
Biometrics are still not perfect, but the possibilities are vast. In her TEDMED speech, Agrafioti said she believes the future of security lies in the parts of our bodies that are difficult to steal and biologically exclusive. Think lip prints, tongue prints, nose pores, and even the acoustic emissions our ears make. “Don’t be surprised if we have managed to embed tiny microphones into earphones so your music player only unlocks in your own ears,” said Agrafioti.