If there is a single royal pain about modern computing it’s passwords. They’re everywhere. Email, website logins, online shopping, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Watch, plus a long list of applications that secure themselves with– you guessed it— passwords.
Humans in the technology age circumvent the password problem by using the same passwords– often quite simple and easy to guess– wherever they can. Walk through a cubicle farm and you’ll see passwords on Post-it Notes stuck to a computer screen. People who don’t use a password manager often have a list of passwords on a notepad at home or in the office.
Everyone’s smartphone should have a password; preferably a tough one to guess. Why? If you use contacts or calendars or text messaging or photos or have various online social accounts, losing your phone could pose a major problem if it falls into the wrong hands.
Apple’s own Touch ID fingerprint sensor gets my vote as about the best security option most of us could use on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. With few exceptions, it just works. And, it can be tied to credit cards and used for Apple Pay. Plus, app developers have access to Touch ID technology so you can open specific applications with ease.
Can Touch ID be broken? Yes. And no. It’s not easy but it’s possible, even for law enforcement agencies with fingerprint grafting capability. But if you lose your iPhone obtaining access is next to impossible.
Alright, what’s better than Touch ID?
- Face recognition – supposedly coming to iPhone 8
- Otoacoustic authentication – earbuds; can’t buy them yet
- Voice recognition – here already, but not at Apple
- Palm recognition – not really practical on mobile devices
- Behavior recognition – nice idea, has many faults
- Multi-step authentication – think Touch ID, voice, face, etc.
- Passphrase – I like this, especially with voice recognition
- One-time passwords – might be good for credit card purchases
- Finger vein recognition – possible with camera or scanner
- Iris scanner – with 3D face recognition; easy and fast
The problem, of course, is getting a mixture into each device. Apple has Touch ID in iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro models. And nothing else. With those of us who navigate devices by fingertip, Touch ID is hard to beat.
If 3D face recognition comes to iPhone 8 later this year we could expect similar capability to show up in iPads and even Macs in the future. But what I want in device security is that sweet combination of ease-of-use and high security. Touch ID is very good, but limited because there is no combination with other secure methods. Add face recognition to voice recognition with a passphrase with Touch ID and that combination would seem to increase security to a substantial degree, no?