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Here’s One Alternative to Having Your Password Stolen by Russian Hackers

Log in just by clicking your favorite spots on a map

smithsonian.com

A team of Russian hackers have carried out the biggest username and password heist ever to come to light. As the New York Times reports, the hackers stole 1.2 billion names and passwords and 500 email addresses from some of the world's biggest companies. Computer security experts are being tight-lipped about which companies were affected, but as many as 420,000 sites were hit, says the Times.

This name and password cache is the largest to date, but it's certainly not the only recent mass hacking. As Smart News has written previously, some large companies, like Facebook, have to try to fend off hundreds of thousands of hacking attempts every day.

Every time something like this happens we're told to change our passwords, and given a long list of best practices to follow: don't make them too simple; don't reuse passwords from site to site; use long strings of random digits, the longer the better. It's all a bit much.

Differing opinions abound on what should replace user-generated passwords. Some people think two-factor authentication is the way to goothers want a physical device that works as a key. But before we can phase out passwords completely, we'll all still need to keep using them. Over at Pacific Standard they've highlighted a different approach to generating super-strong passwords.

Known as a “GeoGraphical” password, this approach has you click on a specific spot on a map to log in, rather than typing a string of characters. The video above from ZSS, the company behind the concept, shows how it works. Using the app you can make super strong 256-character random passwords just by clicking the location of your favorite restaurant or that place you went camping two summers ago. Changing your long password is as easy as picking a new spot on the map.

ZSS GeoGraphical password application is currently out in a still-under-construction beta form.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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