Internet users may soon have a secure solution to the modern plague of passwords, in which they can use visual patterns or even their own body parts to identify themselves.
Developers at the world's biggest high-tech fair, CeBIT, say that one of the biggest frustrations of having a smartphone and a computer is memorizing dozens of sufficiently airtight passwords for all their devices and accounts.
"The problem of passwords is that they are very weak, they are always getting hacked, and also from a user point of view, they are too complicated, everybody has 20, 30, 60 passwords," said Steven Hope, managing director of Winfrasoft from Britain, the fair's guest country this year.
"They all have to be different, no one can remember them, so everybody writes them down or resets them every time they log in. They don't work in the real world today."
Passwords have proliferated so much that it's a daily struggle for users to cope with so many of them.
And as millions of Internet users have learned the hard way, no password is safe when hackers can net them en masse from banks, email services, retailers or social media websites that fail to fully protect their servers.
Many simply throw in the towel and use no-brainer codes like "123456" and "password" -- which are still the most common despite how easily they can be cracked, CeBIT spokesman Hartwig von Sass said at the event in the northern German city of Hanover.
In response to the vulnerabilities and hassles of the antiquated username-and-password formula, Winfrasoft has developed an alternative based on a four-color grid with numbers inside that resembles a Sudoku puzzle.
Users select a pattern on the grid as their "password" and because the numbers inside the boxes change once per minute, the code changes too, making it far harder to hack.