Computer security researchers are continually looking to develop new products so that passwords – widely seen as an easy thing to discover – become unnecessary.  Voice recognition and biometric systems are likely to be the way forward in years to come, but have Japanese researchers came up with something far simpler?

Dummy Cursors

Passwords could be set to remain in some cases, yet rather than typing them into a keyboard, users will instead see the screen populated by ‘dummy cursors’ that move across an on-screen keyboard or number pad.  This has been inspired by studies showing that even if the screen is filled with randomly moving dummy cursors, users can quickly identify which one is theirs.

Naturally, there is a concern around this that if someone can spot it themselves, could someone standing over your shoulder also identify it quickly?  The research team responsible for this project thinks not, but surely the biggest benefit from this will be that remote hackers will not be able to identify a password as easily as they currently can in a lot of cases.  Again, the big question will be if the physical computer user can identify their cursor quickly, how can we be sure that the experienced hacker won’t be able to do so, or upload a remote program so that, from their point of view, the dummy cursors are removed?

Moving Forward

Given the way that biometric mechanisms have already started appearing on smartphones and tablets, it seems unconceivable that they will not ultimately become the way in which we access our computer systems.

While these will still leave concerns around hacking and people using spyware to view our IT activities, it will at least go a long way to reassuring us on a local level.  The widespread development of biometrics means that prices of hardware are not going to rocket when they become integrated into systems, and we can expect to see much more of it in the coming years.