A PayPal Password You Swallow? What Does The Online Payment System Have In Store For Security?

It may sound like something straight out of an Arthur C. Clarke story, but a report from Wired says that the online payment system, PayPal, is looking at alternative ways for people to log into their account that go beyond traditional passwords.

Outlined in a presentation called “Kill All Passwords,” PayPal’s global head of developer advocacy, Jonathen LeBlanc, wants to explore new security measures that could potentially be the end of the standard password system we’re all used to.

What measures are being discussed? According to The Independent, some methods being looked at are vein recognition and computer implants, as well as heartbeat analysis. There were even rumors of having ingestible technology in the form of a pill that the user swallows.

However, PayPal – who are in the process of moving over to Amazon after their split with eBay – recently spoke with Wired and have since denied that they were working towards this technology.

“We have no plans to develop injectable or edible verification systems. It’s clear that passwords as we know them will evolve and we aim to be at the forefront of those developments. We were a founding member of the FIDO alliance, and the first to implement fingerprint payments with Samsung. New PayPal-driven innovations such as one touch payments make it even easier to remove the friction from shopping. We’re always innovating to make life easier and payments safer for our customers no matter what device or operating system they are using.”

PayPal’s reason behind such new ideas may be down to security experts being worried about the weakness of traditional passwords. While biometric scanners (such as fingerprint access on current smartphones) are being implemented, LeBlanc doesn’t feel that this is the right solution, instead offering new technology that allows passwords to be on or in the user’s body.

“It’s clear that passwords as we know them will evolve and we aim to be at the forefront of those developments.”

However, security experts have concerns over problems that could arise if such password-overriding technologies become implemented. Director of the University of Kent Cyber Security Center, Eerke Boiten, does not feel that what PayPal is proposing will dramatically overturn online security.

“These thoughts are not particularly revolutionary. Identification of dogs is already widely implemented in this style through microchipping them…For people, this would run up to all the objections they have against ID cards and well beyond, as it would put them in a position where they would likely be unable to disallow, or even detect, being identified. This is already a known objection to biometrics such as facial recognition.”

While there are already new ways of accessing secure data that go beyond inputting passwords, PayPal are hoping to implement much more safer – albeit futuristic-sounding – methods of logging on.

[Image source: 12C Tech]