Passwords are going to have a battle on their hands if they want to play a part in the future of online security. If it isn’t Google imagining cryptographic rings as a replacement for the standard random digit security codes, it’s some other upstart that’s vying to win over the confidence of netizens.
This week sees the emergence of the amusingly named Nok Nok Labs, which claims to have developed a security protocol that allows users to substitute their passwords for stronger authentication tools such as voice recognition and fingerprint scanning technology.
The name is a play on the classic joke, but Nok Nok Labs is deadly serious when it states its ultimate end goal – which is to overhaul online security via the use of technology that already exists on most smart devices today, such as cameras, touchscreens and microphones. And Nok Nok Labs is not alone in its vision – a number of decidedly wealthy individuals share its dream of a safer and more secure future. The startup has just announced $15 million in backing from the venture funding outfits DCM and Onset Ventures.
Philip Dunkelberger, CEO of Nok Nok Labs, says that authentication processes are long overdue an overhaul, and believes that his company is going about it in the most practical way. He admits that Nok Nok’s protocol isn’t 100% secure – but so long as your smartphone thief doesn’t also hack off a couple of your fingers along with your handset, the chances are that it’s a lot more secure than your existing password.
Nok Nok says that its security protocol is free for anyone to use, and is inviting companies to sign up and begin using it as a way of bolstering the security of their devices. As of next month, the company will also release a client to help it keep track of user inventory and provisioning.
For companies that possess vulnerable data and rightly have genuine security concerns, Nok Nok’s Security protocol seems to be a viable alternative to relying on passwords as a means of securing employee’s devices. The problem with passwords is that even if an employer insists on everyone using multiple codes and making these as complex as possible, changing them regularly etc., most people don’t. People are lazy, people can’t remember multiple passwords and so they get sloppy – and that’s where the risk comes from.
With Nok Nok Labs new tool, that risk is significantly reduced. For example, should an employee accidently leave their laptop on the backseat of a cab, dishonest taxi drivers would have a much harder time cracking it open when it asks for an eye scan or voice activation. It’s fair to say that only the most talented hackers would have any real chance of getting into it.
Companies will never be able to achieve 100% security, all they can hope for is to minimize the chance of a security breach, and something like Nok Nok Labs solution certainly seems to go some way towards doing that.