On Friday afternoon during the Google I/O developer conference, the head of Google’s research unit ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) Daniel Kaufman offered a brief update concerning the status of Project Abacus, Project Abacus is a system that goes in favor of biometrics rather than two-factor authentication.
Apart from a username and password, most organizations also require the entry of a unique PIN, this PIN is either sent via SMS to your smartphone or emailed to you. This is referred to two-factor authentication, since it is a combination of your password (something you know) and your smartphone (something in your possession).
Project Abacus enables users to unlock their devices or sign into applications based on a “Trust Score” that is calculated using a variety of factors, such as your location, typing patterns, walking patterns, speed and voice patterns, facial recognition, and other things.
The score (Trust Score) signifies how certain it is that you are exactly who you say you are. If for example your score isn’t high enough to authenticate you, apps could revert back to asking for passwords. Also several apps could require different Trust Scores, in essence your bank app might require a higher score than a mobile game.
While describing the problem with password-based authentication during the Google I/O, Kaufman explained;
We have a phone, and these phones have all these sensors in them. Why couldn’t it just know who I was, so I don’t need a password? I should just be able to work
According to him engineers in Google’s search and machine intelligence groups have turned Project Abacus’s initiative into something called “Trust API,” and this API will be tested starting with banks next month.
“several very large financial institutions” will begin their initial testing of the Trust API, said Kaufman. “And assuming it goes well, this should become available to every Android developer around the world by the end of the year,” he added.
“Trust API,” will introduce a new way of securing the contents in apps such that if someone else gained access to your device and unlocked it, all your apps will lock down because the software has determined that person isn’t you.
Google is an American multinational technology company founded on the 4th of September 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D students at Stanford University. The company specializes in Internet-related services and products such as online advertising technologies, search, cloud computing, and software. Most of the company’s profits are derived from AdWords, an online advertising service that places advertising near the list of search results. Google’s headquarters is in Mountain View, California, the “Googleplex”.