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Google levels up security at I/O with secure comms tool, better authentication

Blair Hanley Frank | June 2, 2015
On tap: the Project Vault secure MicroSD card, Project Abacus password replacement and other tech to improve users' security.

A login screen using Abacus demonstrated in a video shown at I/O measured and scored a variety of factors, including a user's location, face, voice, typing pattern, connected Bluetooth devices and password. If those scores met an acceptable threshold, the phone could be programmed to unlock for the right person, but when someone else tried to log in, they would be rejected.

Abacus is a step above fingerprint detection and other biometric security measures, since it doesn't just rely on one method of authentication that could be spoofed. According to ATAP head Regina Dugan, Abacus is 10 times as secure as a fingerprint.

Google also unveiled a new Identity Platform on Thursday that will allow developers to automatically retrieve passwords stored with Google's Smart Lock password locker on Android and Chrome to instantly authenticate with websites and apps. It's a move that should make it easier for people to use complex passwords, since they won't have to worry about typing them out or having to find, copy and paste them when it comes time to log into a service.

Google's security plans may be complicated by the current political climate. Law enforcement agencies around the world have been pushing for laws that require tech companies build back doors to give them access to encrypted communication products. David Cameron, who recently won re-election as the prime minister of Great Britain, has said that his government would push for such laws.


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