Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Passcodes with emoji for added security

Right on the heels of the LastPass hacking incident, I've found this nifty suggestion of using emoji on passcodes as a way to improve its security face to the traditional 4 digit number codes.

It's not easy o find the right balance between ease of use and security. The 4 digit PIN code is one of the most common security methods, but its limited number of choices allows it to be cracked with brute force attacks (if applicable.)

We could use letters instead of numbers, but most people with simply choose common 4-letter words which might end up making things even easier for hackers. Another option would be to increase the number of numbers on the code (the new iOS9 will have 6-digit PIN codes, for example) but that will also represent added hassle for users, having to memorize longer passcodes. So, how can we keep the 4 codes, but have some extra security?

One possible way is to use emoji instead of numbers or letters. With dozens of different emoji to choose from, even a simple 4 symbol code represent over 3.5 million possibilities (without repeating any symbol). More so, they're easier to memorize, as you can simply create a meaningful story in your head - for example: car, pizza, hamburger, beer.

Though it still will be much simpler to rely on a fingerprint sensor to do this sort of quick authentication (like it's done on iOS - and the next Android M will also implement that on system level, instead of relying on hacks made by the different manufacturers), the emoji passcodes and passwords might be a nice and simple way to add some extra security when fingerprints are not available or desirable to use.

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