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Google creates device to tackle insecure password issues

01 August 2018 - 15:19 by Simon Crisp

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Online security could become rather more robust if search giant Google manages to get its latest product off the ground.

CNBC reports that the firm is working on a physical key, which slots into PCs like a standard memory stick.

The idea is that the key acts as an encryption barrier between the user and the services they access via their computer.

The upshot is that even if private details, including passwords, are stolen in a data breach and purchased by crooks on the dark web, this information will be effectively useless without the key itself.

In trials it has proven a potent security tool, allowing businesses to avoid the effects of phishing attacks. The assumption is that the same will be true in the consumer market, making it possible to carry out safe shopping online unhindered.

Of course, the downside of relying upon a physical key to gain access to e-commerce services and other web-based accounts is that this small device can go missing. Provided that multi-factor authentication is available, it should be possible to overcome this, but it does raise questions as to how convenient it will be for real-world use.

Furthermore, from a consumer perspective, more and more people are looking to carry out safe shopping online from their smartphones. Since this key is designed for laptops and desktops, it may not be the instant solution to security in a mobile-centric world.

Passwords themselves are seen as a weak link by cyber security experts, but they are not likely to be taken out of the equation in the near future, so physical encryption keys could be a good option for the time being. In the longer term, biometric security may very well leave weak passwords as a distant memory.