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Uniloc’s EdgeID Imagine a World Without Passwords

Passwords are the bane of our computing lives. But do we really want PCs that can log themselves into our systems without us?

Passwords are the bane of our computing lives. But do we really want PCs that can log themselves into our systems without us?

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Uniloc, a California security company, has launched a product that allows computers and smartphones to generate their own security keys based on their hardware and software configuration. According to MIT’s Technology Review, the software, dubbed EdgeID, learns 100 different pieces of information about your machine–including unique fingerprints like the pattern of bad data blocks on your hard drive–and uses them to generate a unique key for that machine. Once the machine is registered, it can login to a central server, which would also run EdgeID software.

The hope is that companies can cut down on thousands of hours of wasted help-desk aid recovering lost passwords, and avoid expensive auto-generating key systems that require employees to carry around key fobs or reset passwords every few weeks. Stolen devices could be locked out of the system, and new devices registered at the company’s discretion.

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But when our machines become the gatekeepers, we lose the ability to roam; though our brains might be tired receptacles for usernames and logins, those portable credentials allow us to work from home, from coffee shops, from airports and from smartphones. The question is: how much mobility would we sacrifice to be able to abandon our passwords?

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About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs

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