Introducing Project Abacus
Passwords have long been the frontline protection against hacking and identity theft. They may not be perfect, they may be hackable, but they’re the best defense we have, right?
Until now. The tech whizzes at Google are cooking up a scheme to eliminate the password as a means of security, replacing it with a system called Project Abacus. And while some people are celebrating Project Abacus as the next evolution in security, others are skeptical, and frankly, a little sketched out.
Honestly, it’s really creepy
That’s because Project Abacus would rely on an accumulation of highly intimate data that Google would be – or already is – collecting about you. Devices and apps would gather information to create a cumulative “trust score,” combining facial recognition technology with information about where you go and when, your voice and speech patterns, how you walk, how you type, and more. In other words, your device would learn to recognize you, without you having to do anything at all.
These supposedly hack-proof technologies could revolutionize device security by leaving it up to the device, rather than the user, who is susceptible to error, or laziness. Users who choose weak passwords or decline to install virus protection would still be protected by Project Abacus. Regina Dugan, who demonstrated Project Abacus at Google’s I/O conference, said that Project Abacus “may prove to be ten-fold more secure than just a fingerprint sensor.”
Flaw in the assumption that humans are predictable
However, other experts are skeptical about the functionality of such a security system. Have you ever had your bank account frozen while you were traveling, because the bank assumed your identity was stolen? It can be inconvenient when computer system presumes to know more about your behavior than you do. Cisco engineer, Shawn Cooley, expressed concerns about Project Abacus when he tweeted, “very cool until I break my leg or hand & can’t auth to any services to get healthcare info since my behavior is diff.”
Even more information available to hackers
Besides being concerned that the computer might fail to recognize you should you display some unexpected behavior, other experts complain that Project Abacus relies on invasive data collection – the kind of data hackers are after in the first place. If someone is able to hack through your Abacus-protected phone, you’d still be in trouble, and perhaps hackers would be able to gather even more information from Abacus’ data pool itself.
A lack of security endangers device users – but so does exorbitant data collection.