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Unlock your electronics with your mug

|Feb 1|magazine8 min read

My online account passwords are obscure: random words, letters and numbers that I figure will fool anyone who dares attempt to hack into my Facebook, iTunes or bank accounts.

Unfortunately, this ‘genius’ plan often backfires, leaving me grumbling as I reset my password yet again with another set of words, letters and numbers that I’ll likely forget again in a week’s time.

What if there was an easier way to login – one that doesn’t require you to remember various codes, but instead uses your facial features to verify your user identity? According to recent reporting by the Sydney Morning Herald, this may be the way of the future.

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But just how secure is a facial scan? The SMH article cited an example where Android users tried unlocking their phones using the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich ‘Face Unlock’ face recognition program with photographs of themselves – and it worked. Apparently, I should be surprised: “Everyone knows Face Unlock on the Galaxy Nexus isn’t the mind blowing feature that financial institutions will immediately start adopting. It’s about quick and easy unlocking. That’s it,” berated one Phandroid contributor.

Several similar programs have popped up since Android’s launch last October as security experts explore new ways for people to not only protect their online login identities, but also speed up identity recognition processes such as Customs at the airport.

"The technology to actually make [facial recognition] happen is developing very, very rapidly," James Turner, an Australian securities expert, told the SMH. "What we're now able to do with voice recognition is phenomenal.

“The simple reality is that biometrics [is] a convenient form of authentication because you're carrying it with you all of the time, whether it's your voice, your face, your fingerprints or your iris.”

Convenience is always a big selling point, but until my accounts can decipher my actual face from a printed-out Facebook profile photo, I’ll stick to typed-out passwords.