Google is researching a way to kill the password, this time with a magic ring.
No, it isn't a weird metaphorical movie plot. The idea is to use a trinket that plugs into the USB slot on a computer and authenticates the user.
At the RSA Security conference in San Francisco, Mayank Upadhyay, a principal engineer at Google who specializes in security, said the experience of logging on to a computer or website should be as simple as using an ATM machine, which is why the company is looking into the USB technology as an alternative to passwords.
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Overall, passwords don't work well for many people. That's because people either have too many and need to write them down - violating rule number one of password security - or they have one that they use in several places, increasing their security risk.
Carrying a token could make authentication easier, because a person wouldn't have to remember all those passwords.
Google's prototype is a USB drive mounted on a ring or other small piece of jewelry that uses a piece of digital information knows as a cryptographic key. It's a bit of software that serves as the encoding and decoding method for secret communications. Cryptographic keys used in computer systems are based on complicated mathematical algorithms, but their purpose is simple: encode a message so that it's unreadable to anyone else but the intended recipient and read a coded message that's meant only for you.