Are Emoji-Based Passwords the Key to Hampering Hackers?

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If these researchers have it right, you may be able to shed lengthy, hard-to-remember passwords for a picture and pattern-based system. :)

If you’re like me, you struggle to remember an ever expanding list of passwords. In an effort to combat what seems like a constant siege by information-stealing hackers, I’ve created passwords that are so strong and secure that even I can’t recall what they are.

Sound familiar?

Now researchers at England’s Plymouth University claim they’ve developed a new password system that not only hampers hackers but is also easier to use and remember than the traditional character-based password system.

It’s called GOTPass, short for Secure Graphical One Time Password, and it’s based on patterns and little pictures, also called emojis.

To set up a GOTPass password, users need to come up with a unique username, then draw a shape on a 4×4 unlock pattern, similar to those used to unlock some iPhone and Android phones. Users then select four different emojis.

On subsequent log-ins, users have to enter their username, draw the pattern and select two of the four emojis they selected from a group of 16 emojis. Correct selection of the emojis will provide users with a random eight-digit code that they can use to complete the password login process.

According to the GOTPass study, which was published in the Information Security Journal: A Global Perspective, the picture-based password system developed by researchers makes it easier for people to remember their passwords, provides more security for important information and is an affordable password alternative for companies to implement.

“Traditional passwords are undoubtedly very usable but regardless of how safe people might feel their information is, the password’s vulnerability is well known,” said study lead and Ph.D. student Hussain Alsaiari. “There are alternative systems out there, but they are either very costly or have deployment constraints which mean they can be difficult to integrate with existing systems while maintaining user consensus.”

Researchers said that in security tests the new password system was 98 percent hack-proof. Of the 690 attempted hackings, eight were successful.

Check out “World’s Worst Passwords: Did Yours Make the List?”

What do you think of picture-based passwords? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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