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The visual web is taking over, Facebook users are uploading millions of photos every day; on Instagram 26 photos are uploaded every second and Pinterest gains more monthly usage than Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn combined.
Visual Security Era
It’s not surprising when we consider that our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than the written word and what we see impacts our emotions and memory. According to Research by Simply Psychology, words are processed by our short term memory and need to be accessed sequentially to recall, but images are stored in our long term memory, imprinted from the very first moment and can be recalled more easily.
In fact, Dr.Lynell Burmark at Thornburg Center for Professional Development said: “Unless our words, ideas and memories are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain and go out the other ear.”
With that in mind, it’s clear the way in which we create password protection needs to evolve and change to fit the way consumers absorb information. It’s time security begins to adapt to harness the advantages of images and the visual web to solve the weakest part of a modern security solution.
The Problem of Passwords
As our lives shift into the digital world, we have to create and remember different passwords to access all areas of our lives: shopping, banking, social networks. As a result, keeping that data safe and secure is arguably the biggest challenge facing commerce, governments and citizens alike. Let’s face it, passwords just don’t work.
We know that passwords are not the best choice for that protection; they can be hacked, phished, or dictionary attacked. Most of all, they’re hard to remember and difficult to use on mobile devices. Worse still, to avoid recalling passwords, we lean towards using the same one across multiple locations. In 2014 the cost of online password breaches reached almost $200 billion – clearly demonstrating that current solutions are falling short of properly protecting personal and financial information.
The use of “single sign-on” methods, where a user uses one login mechanism in order to access multiple applications is a very user friendly concept, but is predominantly used by social media – with 83% of the single sign on password log-ins coming through Facebook and Google, who use passwords with all their weaknesses and provide the service in exchange for personal data. This method of protection needs to change. Nevertheless only 18% of websites use social media for logins due to privacy concerns and ownership of the user data.
As a way to combat the flaws of pass ‘words’ and single sign on, the industry has made attempts to move to picture based alternatives. For example, Microsoft developed a device login version for Windows 8 and 10, but with only three inputs and working on a series of grids rather than pixels means it is significantly less secure. Moreover, as it’s only available for Windows, it does not offer multi-device convenience.
An additional layer of protection can come from a one-time password that is sent to a smartphone. The obvious limitation of course is that it’s not applicable whilst signing in on that device. Equally, hardware tokens, such as those used by banks, are expensive and password managers suffer from the same paradigm flaws as the password.
Companies such as Google, Samsung and Apple are working on biometric solutions but these have come under heavy criticism due to hardware limitations, cost and also the huge security risk that you cannot change your fingerprint if the system is hacked.
These developments show that there is no silver bullet to security but moving to an image-based solution could be the most realistic solution to enable consumers to better protect themselves with a method that works in tandem with their own personal behavior.
Personalization is key
Customer facing businesses must look to safer authentication while keeping pace with a turbulent and growing cyber landscape. In 2016, we can expect to see the democratization of security – it’s no longer a conversation just for the tech-savvy. How can security solutions be simple, elegant and usable by everyone?
In the age of the visual web we know that security isn’t solved by technology alone and security must work in tandem with consumer behavior. By leveraging the power of visual memory recall and emotion, security solutions can be created to call on the hyper-visual parts of our brains and solve the problem of passwords. Designed with personalization and user experience in mind, these third-party solutions can address the need for secure authentication as well as remain appealing to a changing consumer landscape.
PixelPin is a secure, visual and personal log-in technology that solves the problems of passwords. By clicking or touching 4 points in sequence on your favorite image, users can log-in to sites that are PixelPin enabled, safe in the knowledge they won’t be mass-phished, hacked or dictionary attacked and that their privacy and data is safe-guarded.
What this means for photographers
Consider this – when desktop wallpaper was first invented, it was the standard green ceramic dos tiles from the 1980’s. Since then, wall paper has expanded to become one of the most popular online products and a simple web browser search for wall-paper will access well over 10 million sites. People long to put their personal touch and stamp their individuality on everything,
As PixelPin evolves, it will become a new platform to promote good quality photographers globally.
New businesses that partner with PixelPin will also partner with the photography community to offer PixelPin galleries that are aligned to their brands creative vision. This in turn leads to increased recognition for photographers.
As users of the technology, being able to log-in with our favorite photographs is important. Often our photographs are linked to memories and the ability to engage with these on a regular basis is appealing. Images are much more than a simple record of important events in our lives however as they allow us to share and communicate what we find beautiful and interesting with others. This impulse is evidenced by the popularity of sites like Instagram and Flickr as millions of people share their personal takes on the world they witness.
So, photographers – and in fact anyone that appreciates photography – benefit in multiple ways with PixelPin. As the technology promotes moving to an image-based authentication solution, it opens up new opportunities to the visual community and underscores yet another reason as to why photography continues to be relevant in the 21st Century.