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article imageEmojis could be the future of security and PIN codes

By James Walker     Jun 15, 2015 in Technology
A software company has claimed that emoji could soon replace PIN codes as the primary security form for bank accounts. The smiling faces are viable because they are easier to remember than PIN codes and there are many more combinations available.
The Huffington Post reports how Intelligent Environments have found that emoji could offer over three million password combinations. In comparison, there are only 7,290 possible numerical PIN codes.
An emoji code would also be easier for users to remember as the human brain is better at remembering images than text and codes. People would be able to use emoji combinations that they are less likely to forget than a four-digit PIN code but the emoji sequence would also be better at protecting their bank account.
Intelligent Environments has now launched a functioning system called Emoji Passcode. It allows users to choose their emoji PIN from 44 different symbols. The Managing Director of Intelligent Environments, David Webber, told the BBC that the system is expected to appeal most to 15-25 year olds and should be "fun and innovative."
There is already an issue with Emoji Passcode, however. Implementing the system requires displaying a screen of different emoji to the user at the time when they have to enter their "emoji PIN," making it possible for regular patterns to become overused like with PIN codes.
Human laziness means that people are most likely to simply select the four emoji in the corners of the screen, making this easily exploitable to attackers. Former memory champion Michael Tipper told the BBC that although the emoji should be more memorable, the issue of human behaviour could ultimately make it into an "equally insecure technology."
Perhaps we could find a way around this in the future. The positions of the emoji on the screen could be randomised so that they are in different locations each time.
Alternatively, the symbols could perhaps be arranged into an irregular cluster shape — like the apps on the Apple Watch's home screen — instead of the rigid grid structure, making it harder for people to expose themselves by being lazy as patterns would be less detectable. Although the PIN code looks set to stay for some time longer, perhaps emoji could be responsible for more than just adding humour to messages in the future.
More about emoji, Pin, Code, Bank, Security
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