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Google signals the end of passwords with Project Abacus

News: Users could login to their phones using a combination of biometric and unique usage patterns.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google is to test a new login method, effectively ending the use of the traditional password. The launch of the Trust API, part of Project Abacus looks set to replace consumer passwords with a trust score of facial recognition and location data.

The Trust API was developed at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP). It was codenamed Project Abacus and was introduced last year. Its aim is to replace traditional passwords with multiple layers of unique personality indicators.

The API will reportedly be available to Android developers by the end of the year, with the system available for smartphones and tablets.

The Trust API will learn how a person uses the phone and will chart out a pattern which will uniquely identify the person. It will generate a ‘trust score’ based on the pattern and will use the score as a benchmark to determine whether or not the right person is using the phone. The API will use facial outline, the voice of the person, the way the person swipes the keyboard, how the person moves and more in order to identify the correct user.

The launch of the API has been welcomed by industry experts, with Armin Barbalata, SVP Secure Communications at Xura, saying:

"The news that Google is set to begin trials with Project Abacus is a positive move for the industry. The opportunities for biometric technology are seemingly growing by the day, especially within the world of mobile, and so it makes perfect sense for Google to enter the authentication scene.

"There’s an acute need for the industry to find alternative ways to ensure digital personas stay intact; using various biometrics methods, and simple one time passcodes instead of traditional passwords can eliminate this barrier and improve the ease of use.

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"Taking a multifactor authentication approach, as Google is doing with Project Abacus, will provide a superior level of security for organisations dealing with sensitive data. In an age when the consumer is becoming ever more aware and concerned about their data security, providing stronger authentication methods, which are also convenient and simple for the end user are paramount, and when done right, will ultimately result in increased customer loyalty."

Google has already introduced face unlock feature in its Android, starting from Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and higher versions, but it is faced with issues.

But, the Internet search giant says that using face unlock as a standalone feature is less secure, but when all the other patterns like voice, keyboard swipe, location are combined, then it can result in high security for one’s phone.

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