Google's New Password Ring: Never Remember A Password Again

As though Google weren't doing enough already.

The massive search engine company that is pretty much driving the majority of tech innovation currently is now adding to its repertoire (again) by announcing a new ring that would allow the wearer to do away with that nagging need to remember innumerable passwords.

Google has been noodling around with the idea of eliminating the need for password memory (at least in humans) for some time now, having released a paper on the subject and relayed by Wired in mid-January. The paper's main focus was a specialized USB key that, once connected to one's computer, would provide the necessary credentials .

The Google "password ring" works in a similar manner to the USB key.

Google's belief is that the use of personal hardware like the USB key or even a ring worn round one's finger could "remove the dangers of people reusing passwords or writing them down," said Mayank Upadhyay, a principal engineer at Google specializing in security. Upadhyay was in fact the first person to mention the password ring publicly, at Google's RSA security conference in San Francisco last month.

Upadhyay feels a password ring would also work on a consumer level, as it's a familiar item, much like an ATM debit card.

"Everyone is familiar with an ATM," Upadhyay says. "What if you could use the same experience with a computer?"

The USB key trial that might now be leading to the password key could be ported into mobile devices as well as computers, Upadhyay revealed.

"Tokens like the ones Google is testing do not contain a static password that could be copied," the MIT Technology Review reports"The cryptographic key unique to the device is stored inside and is never transmitted. When the key is plugged in, it proves its validity by correctly responding to a mathematical challenge posed by the online service it is being used to log into, in a way that doesn't produce any information that could be used to log in again."

Because some people might not be familiar with or "comfortable" with a USB key, Upadhyay added, the password key has now been in the works.

"It's extremely early stages, and we're trying to get more partners," Upadhyay says. Such potential partners include FIDO Alliance, an organization that in February went live with technology that ensures secure log-ins without a need for passwords.

"The other cool thing, which we're really pushing for, is that it's just built into the browser, so that you don't have to bother installing middleware or anything else," Upadhyay says. "We want to have the case where you could just go to your friend's house and it just works."

Would you wear a ring that would obviate the need to remember passwords? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

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