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Scientists Trying to Do Away With Passwords

Passwords are required for everything from making phone calls to checking bank accounts.

Passwords are required for everything from making phone calls to checking bank accounts.

Hackers around the world are getting better at stealing passwords. A hacker is a person who uses a computer to gain information without permission. Now, some computer scientists are trying to stop hackers by not using passwords.

The U.S. Military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is responsible for the creation of the Internet. The agency is supporting research projects that will make passwords a thing of the past.

One project is called Active Authentication. Scientists working on the project want to use a person’s individual qualities to protect electronic devices like wireless phones against hackers. For example, the movement of a person’s hands when they use a wireless phone can be read by sensors. The phone can remember those signs and observe them. The phone locks when someone other than the owner tries to use it.

Other teams of scientists are trying to teach computers and smartphones how to recognize a person’s writing style. The devices will know the words a person uses, how they make sentences and the kinds of errors they make.

In another project, the owner of a device says a phrase instead of typing a password. Sensors identify the sound and way that a user says words.

DARPA says the projects have had very good results. Some of the largest computer and smartphone manufacturers have expressed interest in using them in new devices.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

This story was based on a VOA News report, adapted by Jonathan Evans and edited by Mario Ritter.


Words in the News

hacker - n. a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system

password - n. secret word or phrase that a person must know before being given permission to enter a place

smartphone - n. a cell phone that includes additional software functions (as e-mail or an Internet browser)

authenticate - v. prove that something is real, true, or genuine : to prove that something is authentic

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