Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Developers Seeking to Make Security Work 'Imagistically' Developers Hoping Security Can Work 'Imagistically,' Ditch Easily Cracked Text Combinations

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Developers Seeking to Make Security Work 'Imagistically' Developers Hoping Security Can Work 'Imagistically,' Ditch Easily Cracked Text Combinations

Article excerpt

Baseball. Football. Monkey.

Using any of those words - all of which landed in the Top 20 on a list of the 500 worst passwords of all time - to protect online accounts is the equivalent of giving hackers engraved invitations and keys.

But what if the word baseball is replaced by a cartoon image of the object? What if all three words are turned into symbols and used to replace the current mishmash of numbers, letters and traditional keyboard characters that make up the standard password?

Could emojis be the key that finally locks hackers out of secure networks for good?

Intelligent Environments, a U.K.-based financial software firm began testing the theory on Monday with the introduction of what it referred to as "the world's first emoji-only password."

Using a database of hundreds of emojis - cartoon symbols used in place of words in text messages and on social media sites - the company said its new system comes with 3.5 million different potential four-character password combinations and an added bonus of memorability that doesn't come with letters and numbers.

In addition to saving customers headaches, it could save millions of dollars. A report by Cambridge, Mass.,-based Forrester Research says labor costs associated with password changes are around $70 per reset.

Tony Buzan, London-based author of "The Memory Book: How to Remember Anything You Want," endorsed emojis passwords as a method that is more in touch with the brain's natural learning patterns in a video posted on Intelligent Environments' website.

"Forgetting passwords is because the brain doesn't work digitally or verbally, it works imagistically," said Mr. Buzan, inventor of Mind Maps

Beyond memory, introducing new ingredients into the current password stew can only increase variety and hamper hacking attempts, according to Adam Levin, founder of Scottsdale, Ariz.,- based identity protection firm Identity Theft 911.

"Anything we can do that is creative and innovative and gives us a new way to look at passwords, which unfortunately have been a disaster, is great," he said. …

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