Illustration by Esmile Studio.

We unlock smartphones, ATMs, social media accounts, mail accounts, bank accounts, our laptops and tablets. A password is required to access our files and personal information. Managing all those secret codes and passwords is frustrating. Sometimes you just have the exact same 4-digit code for several accounts or the same random string of letters , numbers and symbols for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and social media keep appearing and our online accounts keep growing. That’s just not right.

Josefina Blattmann
Jun 28, 2018 · 4 min read

New devices aim to improve digital security and avoid cyber attacks without relying on people’s memory. This isn’t a new idea, back in 2004, Bill Gates stated that the whole idea of passwords was not a sustainable security mechanism. People use the same password on different systems, they write them down in pieces of paper or even in their smartphone notes.

As cybercriminal and password-focused attacks increase, many businesses and users have the need to shift to more advance means of secure authentication. The future is full of options that could replace traditional passwords. Here are some of the alternatives:

Digital Certificates

A identity-verifying environment is a multi-layered one. Digital certificates present a way of ensuring that identity vetting happens in a multi-step way. The seamless design of cloud-based certificate management allows this and it doesn’t slow down the authentication process.

Encryption Standards

Apps like Whatsapp or Instagram use multi-factor authentication. Strong encryption algorithms such as Advanced Encryption Standard-256 can add an extra layer of security. If an organisation has a huge amount of sensitive information using multi-level authentication can make it much more secure.

Zero-interaction Authentication (ZIA)

This method is in the works. It aims at users not needing to interact with a device or system in order to log in. Another device the user is carrying functions as a security key (it could be car keys, a pen drive, a tablet, etc) and it interacts with the terminal in order to confirm the identity. The technologies that take full protagonism here are Bluetooth, near-field communication or radio frequency identification.

Fingerprint Readers

This technology is gaining recognition mainly because they are useful on our day-to-day lives. Many smartphones and tablets are already using it. The App Store for example lets you pay for your apps with just one touch and you can also open sensitive files with this authentication system. Imagine if every app or account in your smartphone worked with this hassle-free and secure system. Wouldn’t it be nice?

Account Key Feature

The Account Key feature was developed by Yahoo!. It uses push notifications for user authentication. So when a user tries to log in to their mail on a device, they get a notification on their smartphone. This ensures that it’s that user signing in.

Trust Score System

Google also has plans to ditch traditional passwords. They intend to let users sign in and unlock devices through a trust score. It is calculated using several behavioural factors such as location, facial recognition and typing pattern.

Persona-based Authentication

Persona-based authentication relies on a combination of ‘geographical’ and ‘behavioural’ elements. Location and details of a user, the way in which they hold their smartphone, their voice and their eye blinking pattern are unique to each individual and can help verify its identity.

Advanced Biometrics

Some smartphones already employ biometric solutions such as fingerprint scanners to bulk up security. Some app developers, however, believe fingerprint scanning is something of the past. An Android application, for example, uses the ear as a biometric indicator, using the capacitive touchscreen to record a user’s unique ear impression. Users can unlock their phone by simply tapping their ear at the centre of the screen.

Whats crystal clear is that as our digital lives require more and more passwords and pins, it’s time for a change. Of course we cannot bet on, for example, face recognition, without trying it out first and ruling out every inconvenient such tech would introduce. But, our passcode lists and mnemonic rules to remember them should go to the recycle bin asap.

Elevate is a publication by Lateral View.

Josefina Blattmann

Written by

Marketing Strategist at Bardo (

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