Scientists want to replace passwords with brainwaves

Complex and secure passwords are a bit of a challenge to remember. That’s one of the reasons we recommend a bunch of utilities – LastPass, KeyChain and their ilk – that store them so you don’t have to.

But those could soon go the way of the dodo if research being done by Binghamton University produces some sort of consumer-grade brainwave-reading gadget that plugs into a PC.

According to TechCrunch, a recent study titled “Brainprint” published in the academic journal Neuroscience demonstrated how researchers are able to use brain waves to accurately identify individuals based on their brains’ responses to certain acronyms.

The official press statement about the study said that the cerebral fingerprints were unique enough that each individual’s brain wave patterns could be used to unlock services confidently. With only at 94% accuracy at the moment, however, it’s not yet good enough for security applications.

That means some day, you could conceivably unlock PCs and access websites and services that currently require usernames and passwords with nothing more than your brain and a sequence of acronyms flashed on your screen during the authentication process. Presumably while wearing some sort of brainwave-reading headgear strapped to your noggin.

The benefit of brain waves as an authentication mechanism is they’re as unique as fingerprints, but more importantly they can be re-created if compromised, unlike fingerprints which are unchangeable.

In the event of a fingerprint being misappropriated and used by an unauthorised party, that compromise is permanent, whereas a security system using brainwave recognition can simply be updated to yield based on a different set of responses should someone get hold of the original brain wave pattern.

It all sounds quite promising, but don’t expect to see brainwave-reading gadgets appearing on store shelves quite yet, as the research is still quite new.

Queue the hordes worried that muggers will now decapitate people in order to sign into online banking.

[Source – TechCrunch, Image – CC BY-SA 2.0]


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