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New password system lets planet Earth do the hard work

Think of a place, any place…

Eiffel Tower Shenzhen at night

Log-in credentials derived from geographical information could reduce the majority of data breaches by providing an almost uncrackable replacement for conventional passwords, according to security researchers.

ZSS-Research of Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE has developed a system which requires users to choose a favourite place anywhere on the planet and then draw a virtual boundary around that location.

It could be anything, from a favourite tree in a park to the Eiffel Tower, according to the firm’s Ziyad Al-Salloum, writing in the International Journal of Security and Networks (via e! Science News).

The system then derives a selection of geographical information such as longitude, latitude, altitude and the length of the boundary to form the password, which is salted and hashed.

Given the randomness of location selection and the shape and size of the boundary drawn by the user, the permutations are enormous but the password (ie the location) is easy to remember for the user.

"Proposing an effective replacement of conventional passwords could reduce 76% of data breaches, based on an analysis of more than 47,000 reported security incidents,” Al-Salloum wrote, according to eScience News.

The multiplicity of online accounts most people use on a daily basis has made remembering passwords a major headache which this system could go some way to alleviating.

However, returning to the old password paradigm when most major providers are moving to two factor authentication could make it a tough sell for the ZSS-Research team. ®

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