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Project Abacus: Google looks to replace passwords by monitoring your phone

Published 25/05/2016

Google's Project Abacus: Typing long and complex passwords into your phone might soon be a thing of the past
Google's Project Abacus: Typing long and complex passwords into your phone might soon be a thing of the past

Google is set to begin testing a new login method which replaces passwords with a 'trust-based' system which monitors the way you typically use your phone.

The 'Trust API', part of 'Project Abacus', was unveiled at Google's I/O developer conference, and is set to be tested by a number of large financial institutions in June, the Guardian reports.

The system is designed to be used on smartphones, and works by constantly checking for a number of personal indicators which can grant access to accounts or the phone itself.

Instead of asking for a password, the phone might analyse your face, your voice, how you type, how you swipe, how you move and where you are. All of these bits of data are fed into the API, which then generates a 'trust score' which indicates how likely it is that it's actually you carrying the phone.

The idea is to make devices more secure. Someone could easily steal a password, but it would be much harder for them to mimic the unique way someone else uses their phone. Google believes a login system based on a combination of these factors could be 10 times more secure than a fingerprint scan.

This gives developers more levels of security to play with. A banking app, for example, might let you check your balance using only the Trust API. But when you have to transfer money or view more sensitive information, it might ask for more verification, like a fingerprint scan or a traditional password. This may make certain apps quicker and easier to use.

The testing phase will begin soon, but Google's Dan Kaufman said it should be available to every Android developer by the end of the year if all goes well - meaning the days of having to remember multiple passwords for different accounts and devices might soon be over.

Independent News Service

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