The username/password method of authentication is dying, albeit slower than many of us would like. In 2016, we should see a continued trend of replacing password authentication as the primary method for navigating through cyberspace.
We all know the challenges of password authentication. The number of access points that require passwords is growing making it impossible for anyone to remember a specific password for each site. This requires us to regularly use the “Forgot My Password” link or dangerously use the same or similar password for all sites. While password management applications are available, they have not garnered wide acceptance.
What alternatives should we expect to see? Biometric authentication (e.g., Apple’s Touch ID) allows users to access their devices and certain applications using just a fingerprint. While this is the most readily identifiable alternative at present, it is not the only replacement. Geolocation authentication relies upon a user’s unique Internal Protocol (IP) address. Bluetooth proximity authentication permits users, for example, to automatically log in to his/her desktop computer by virtue of the close proximity of their mobile phone. Finally, one should expect pictograph authentication to become more prevalent wherein users select pictures as opposed to characters which are easier to remember.
Of course, the hope is that these alternative authentication methods will not only make site access less cumbersome but also reduce the number of unauthorized attacks. Only time will tell whether replacing password authentication will achieve the remedial objective.