The weakest link in a chain is always the one that breaks, everyone knows this. Several popular TV shows are built on the concept of the weak link, finding it, and eliminating it each week to find the strongest competitor. Hacking a system is, in a lot of ways, the same. Run some test, poke the system with a stick, push on it, pull on it, and see where it gives – where it breaks. Securing a system is the same basic idea; however, instead of using that weak point to get inside, you eliminate it. Time and again, in system after system, network after network the human element is the most easily exploited point in a system’s security. I am not talking about users opening infected email or browsing infected web sites. I am talking about passwords. People always look for a way to use the simplest password to connect to a network, or email, or web site. I am as guilty as anyone else, but what if humans were not the weakest link anymore? What if we could forget about remembering a password to access a system?
If I don’t use a password how do I log in to my computer you ask? Biometrics… Bio-what? Oh yeah all that spy stuff that evil fictional governments use to protect their secrets and weapons. That’s all just fake, right? No, it’s real and it has been available in some form or other for years. There are thousands of laptops in use today with fingerprint readers on them. Several mouse manufacturers have sold mice with fingerprint readers on them at one time or another. USB fingerprint readers are available online right now for $20-$30. So, if this is old news that you can log into your computer with your fingerprint, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is facial recognition. At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, several developers were showing off software that would let you log into your computer with your face. Cool, huh? Sit down, look at the camera, and your computer recognizes you and logs you in. Microsoft has integrated this feature into its new Xbox One — just look deeply into its cold digital eye and Xbox recognizes you. It logs you into the system and loads your preferences, and you are ready to enjoy the system. Well this is a far cry from logging into my workstation at the office, isn’t it? Again, the future is here. There are companies today that have software that they will install on your computer — for example, KeyLemon has a free application that will log you into Windows using your face. KeyLemon can also manage your other passwords for sites like Facebook or Twitter. Face it — this is the evolution of computer security. At least that’s what I think. I think this technology will continue to evolve and that with Microsoft using it in their Xbox One to identify system users, we should expect to see this feature become part of the Windows login experience out of the box within the next year or two.