Google test alternative to the Password with ‘smart rings’ and USB keys

Passwords have become an increasing problem for many; Life would be more secure if we used USB sticks, or even jewelry, to log into computer accounts, suggest Google engineers.

Yubikey device

The Yubikey, which is believed to have been tested by Google. Placing it into a Google laptop can automatically log users onto all their accounts, without ever asking for a password.


The search giant is experimenting with USB keys, mobile phones and even jewelry that can act as a physical ‘key’ to give users access to their account.

The firm’s security bosses are set to publish their findings next month – and say they could soon be commonplace.

In the upcoming issue of IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, Google Vice President of Security Eric Grosse and engineer Mayank Upadhyay are set to detail what is basically a physical key with a ‘smart chip’ embedded inside it.

‘Along with many in the industry, we feel passwords and simple bearer tokens such as cookies are no longer sufficient to keep users safe,’ the pair write in their paper, according to Wired.

To log, users simply place the tiny USB drive into their computer. While a USB card would be a physical key of sorts, other devices such as a smart ring would use some sort of wireless protocol, which Google is reportedly developing.

Wired says that the protocol would not be a Google product per se, indicating that it would work on any site that implements the measure.

This technology can’t come soon enough. Hopefully in just a few years we’ll be laughing about the bad old days of usernames and passwords.

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