During last week’s Apple iPhone announcement, one of the standout features that was mentioned was the 5s’s fingerprint sensor, called Touch ID. With this technology, iPhone users can substitute the use of passwords to unlock the home screen and verify purchases in iTunes and App Store.
Substitute is the operative word. Technology like Touch ID may well become a good added layer for securing accounts against hackers and even malware, but it will be a very long time before we can forgo all passwords entirely.
From a security standpoint, Touch ID looks good on paper that hopefully also translates in the real world (hands-on demos are mostly positive, but we’ll see more once iPhone 5s rolls out in December). Biometrics is not new, and we’ve seen in the past how Play-Dohs can trick fingerprint sensors. The iPhone 5s will not even be the first phone to introduce fingerprint scanning, which shows that technologies like these need to be implemented properly, especially when being introduced to oft-demanding consumer market.
Exception Rather Than The Rule
It should also be said that technologies like these are more of the exception rather than the rule. Granted, other services may well be thinking of their own ways to address the “password problem.” For instance, a day prior to the Apple event, a Google executive was quoted as saying that “passwords are done” and that they are finding ways to innovate. Until such time that these innovations become mainstream (and hopefully standardized), users will still have to log on to their accounts by using passwords.
We should also consider the fact that most users have more than one device to access online accounts, and these devices have their own hardware specifications. Touch ID may work well in purchasing songs via iPhone—and maybe soon in other Apple products, but if you’re going to have to access iTunes via PC, you still need your password.
Passwords are Still Key, But Manage Them Properly
The bottom line here is that passwords are still an important security aspect on everyone’s digital life. Granted, managing them can be a tedious task—length and complexity are needed now more than ever, especially now that even long passphrases can be brute forced. Secure computing habits, password managers like Trend Micro DirectPass, and even the built-in security features of mobile phones and other devices (yes, like the upcoming Touch ID) can help.
To know more on how to secure your passwords across multiple devices, check out our latest Digital Life e-Guide below:
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