In this brave new world of emerging protectionism and continued globalization, privacy and security seem at odds. In our market survey across 730 individuals and a similar count of organizations, security concerns ranked 10 very important (0 not at all) on startlingly 50% of those surveyed.
UnifyID, a service that authenticates you based on unique factors like the way you walk, type, and sit is a revolutionary new identity platform for seamless security. Understanding the need for data privacy and ownership, product ease of use, and multifactor security, UnifyID has crafted a solution to address the pain of remembering passwords for authorized access in online and offline use cases.
In a deeper dive across 70 organizations and in 40 hours of interviews, we discovered that people care a lot about easier access at work but also at home. “It would be great if you can take stuff off my plate: several cell phones for different countries, computers, iPads, smart software in my car and home that can all actually talk to each other so that I don’t use the same password or long passwords every time I do a software update–this would save me several days every year I take to manage the access to these independent tools,” says Marco, an enterprise software COO.
In another interview with John, an undergraduate aerospace engineer, “Personally, I’m just excited to make new technology a part of my life. UnifyID complements my life with easier access to all of the sites I visit and makes my life easier and exciting to see the technology of the future as part of my life. Other than protecting my identity, it’s really cool to use this technology to make a big difference in people’s lives.”
These interviews were a special treat to meet people from different cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life. We had an incredibly unique chance to hear more on what specifically about security is most important to our users’ day-to-day lives. “As a small company, you have the opportunity to touch more people than Coca-Cola! A guy living in Istanbul is really interested in what you’re doing right now, 10k kilometers away. I’m sure more than 100k people are very excited about what 6 people in San Francisco are doing,” remarked a manager at Coca-Cola at the end of our call.
Our challenge is unique in that we’re not just addressing large corporations but real people including our friends and family. Though the political tides may be changing, taking back your rights to security and privacy is a paramount task we don’t take lightly. If you’d like to join us in this journey to taking down passwords, please sign up for beta or feel free to drop us a note anytime.
Recently we’ve witnessed some pretty big password leaks. First 6.4m unsalted passwords leaked from LinkedIn, then 500m passwords leaked from Yahoo, which today turned to 1 billion accounts. This is truly scary even if you haven’t been using your Yahoo account. To see why let us go back a couple of months when I almost fell victim to a credential stuffing attack from China.
First of all, “Credential stuffing” is a fancy name for password reuse. All it takes is somebody with very intermediate computer security knowledge, looking up the password dumps from Yahoo or LinkedIn (widely available), then trying the same exact credentials on as many different sites as possible, until there is a match. In my case, I logged into my Steam account and saw something like this:
Unfortunately, Steam does not specify if this is a credentials stuffing attempt, but it was only a week after the big LinkedIn leak. I may also have been reusing the same password for my LinkedIn and Steam, so all the pieces fit. Steam was very helpful in telling me the following:
Somebody had tried to access my account from PRC.
He had both my username and password.
His attempt was blocked since I’ve never accessed Steam from PRC.
I needed to change my password to regain access to my account.
At that time I deeply appreciated all those otherwise annoying security features. Facebook asking me to identify my friends, Google sending me text messages and now Steam using geolocation to see where my impersonator lives. I quickly updated my password on Steam and 5-6 other websites.
My new password was the same as the old one, with the last letter changed from a ‘d’ to an ‘e’, meaning this was the 5th time I updated my Steam password for one or another reason. The rest of the password was pretty good in terms of entropy. Caps, lower cases, numbers, and symbols, randomly generated as well as pronounceable, using pwgen, a great CLI tool for generating strong, memorable passwords.
But this is not great overall. It’s only one step in the right direction for attackers to realize how hard it is to remember a password, which is why users opt to postfix their existing ones with predictable components, such as an increasing identifier. I’ve read posts about people using the same password everywhere and instead prefixing it with the site name. So if your main password is “d34db33f” then for Amazon it will be “amazon_d3adb33f”, for Chase “chase_d3adb33f” or something along those lines.
I believe I have a good understanding of the security concepts behind passwords and I think I’m doing better in terms of passwords that 99% of the people out there since my password is not “password” or “123456” (proof). On the other hand, here I found myself coming up with predictable password patterns. Then it came to me, the bigger issue exposed by credential stuffing attacks and password reuse:
Either we all do passwords right, or nobody does.
Either nobody gets hacked, or we may as well all be, as long as users can’t help but use the same passwords and predictable patterns over and over again.
So what does it mean for everyone to do passwords right? If you want to be really safe, you’ve got to be a bit paranoid and lean completely on the side of security versus convenience.
A password should be completely unpredictable (should not include pet names, date of birth, middle names, children names, childhood heroes, favorite books, in fact, no English words at all).
A password should have capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and be at least 16 characters long (for 128-bit keys).
A different such password for each website, changed every 3 months, with no logical correlations between them.
It is indeed impossible to be truly secure using passwords. How about password managers then? Letting them handle the complexity of passwords. Not a bad idea on first thought. Just tie all passwords to the user’s machine. But then you get this:
Password managers basically escalate the problem of cyber security to a problem of physical security of your devices. If I can get my hands on an open laptop, I can access pretty much any website, as long cookies are enabled or a password manager has been used. And that’s pretty terrible.
In the end, there is no solution that takes care of every aspect of identity security today. It’s either what you know (password), what you have (device) and now we’re finally moving into the age of what you are.
At UnifyID, we think of the human as the central point of identity management. Think about every bit of information that makes you, You. How large is your stride, do you walk fast or slow, how long are your arms, which floor is your house at, how fast do you drive to work? This is all information that we feed into our machine learning system as input. The output is binary. Either it is you, or it isn’t. Since we only require 1-bit of information at the time of authentication, we can log you in with one click.
Our system works with existing password infrastructures. We generate a large, random password for every website you are logged in, and secure it with You as the key. In fact, we don’t even need to know that password. Part of it stays with you and part of it lives in our servers. This way, even if your devices get stolen, even if we get hacked, you’re safe. There’s no single point of failure in the UnifyID system.
In addition, UnifyID works across devices. Your computer knows about your phone, and they share the same credentials. Remember that time when you left your laptop unattended for 5′ and your facebook wall got full of questionable posts? Not anymore. We can detect when you stand up and walk away. In fact, we can do that for every website, banks, e-shops, federal websites. Take your identity with you when you leave the room.
Here at UnifyID we take your security seriously. Passwords are an inconvenience and they will soon go the way of the floppy drive. Machine learning and implicit authentication can help you, and we know exactly how. Sign up for our private beta!