Forget Passwords and Use Familiar Faces Through Facelock

By David Gutbezahl July 02, 2014

Trying to remember dozens of seemingly random strings of letters and numbers for usage as passwords can be frustrating. Unfortunately, using one or two passwords for a variety of accounts can be dangerous. If one account is compromised the others might as well be too. From encrypted password managers to edible password pills, tech geniuses have been looking to change the game in different ways, hoping to make logins easier, yet more secure. One of the newest innovations out there is looking to replace passwords through using the faces we know for authentication.

According to a research report published in the journal PeerJ, a new authentication system known as Facelock will be using face recognition in order to authenticate logins.

Facelock will allow users to create a portrait portfolio, nominating several faces that would create a combination in which only the user could correctly identify 100 percent of the pictures. When the user attempts to log in to a website, they will b given a display with several faces. One face would be a familiar face while the others would be randomly selected. All the user has to do is select the familiar face.

Psychological research has shown that humans have an extraordinary ability to recognize faces they are familiar with throughout different images, regardless of whether the image is of poor quality. On the other hand, unfamiliar faces are considered tied to a specific image, to the point that different images of the same face are often thought of as different people.

These elements of human psychology make programs like Facelock seem almost impenetrable. Dr Rob Jenkins of the University of York in the U.K., the lead writer of the PeerJ report, said "pretending to know a face that you don't know is like pretending to know a language that you don't know - it just doesn't work. The only system that can reliably recognize faces is a human who is familiar with the faces concerned.”

There does seem to be some concern regarding Facelock. It will be using images of figures somewhat in the spotlight, from music, sports and film, which might mean that the faces will be familiar to many. However, a robust combination of different faces will help make each Facelock portfolio more complex and difficult to break. Also, while Facelock may keep dangerous hackers and other strangers out of a person's accounts, it may leave a wide opening for close relatives and friends to find a way into a person's accounts. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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