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The Future Of Passwords

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In a search to address security concerns and solve the problems associated with password protection, DARPA, (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is now in the process of developing a behavior based biometric identification system that may replace traditional passwords in the future. According to DARPA, even the strongest password is still one of the weakest forms of security. Entering a password doesn’t prove who you are, it just proves that you know the correct combination to gain access.

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The US military has been plagued with instances where individuals were able to gain access to private information via hacking or guessing the password. For this reason, DARPA has recruited the help from one of the most prestigious military institutions in the U.S. A multimillion dollar grant has been awarded to the West Point Academy. The grant comes from DARPA’s “Active Authentication” program, which seeks to replace traditional authentication techniques, such as passwords. The grant will be used by researchers to develop cognitive algorithms that will learn to recognize behavioral patterns based on how someone uses their devices. The idea is that the way each person uses their equipment is unique and that the program can determine who is using it by their behavior.

Also Read: I’ve Been Hacked – What To Do Next

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How It Might Work

DARPA Vector Logo.epsIn working practice, the user would log in, and the device would monitor that users behavior to determine whether or not that person is who they appear to be. The user’s habits and behavior will be gathered and stored on a remote server. This profile will load every time the user logs on. If the user’s behavior deviates too much from what the program knows about the user, it will raise awareness to the system operator, or automatically shut down the device.

In a statement by DARPA,

The Active Authentication program seeks to address this problem by developing novel ways of validating the identity of the person at the console that focus on the unique aspects of the individual through the use of software based biometrics. Biometrics are defined as the characteristics used to uniquely recognize humans based on one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits. This program focuses on the behavioral traits that can be observed through how we interact with the world. Just as when you touch something your finger you leave behind a fingerprint, when you interact with technology you do so in a pattern based on how your mind processes information, leaving behind a “cognitive fingerprint.”

An example of this would be if you were in a habit of signing into your computer and pulling up the latest news from Hacked.com, this new level of security would keep track of things such as your WPM, the use of Firefox over Chrome, the applications you normally run, etc. Any major deviation from your habits, such as someone typing much faster than you normally do, might set off an alarm.

Security Concerns

To keep this highly personal data secure, DARPA says that the device doesn’t send all the data stored on the main server. Instead, the program combs through the data collected, and rates it based on how close to the user it believes it to be. The device then sends that score to the administrator who can decide whether to continue to allow access, or shut the device down.

This would also prevent constant lockouts as a person’s behavior changes. By sending only the score of the user through the network, it leaves virtually nothing of value for a hacker to steal.

Richard Guidorizzi, who until recently was the director of the “Active Authentication” program, states that,

I’m not trying to create the next database to be hacked that has everybody’s biometric behavior in the world. We’re not even storing your personal information, all we’re doing is reading it and developing a profile score and saying, ‘OK, this is in the range.’

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A UNC Chapel Hill graduate, blockchain enthusiast and analyst. I have a background in programming and IT, strong studies in econ, stats and game theory. I'm interested in online privacy and privacy laws.




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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. sjs

    March 5, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Very impractical. There may well be one or more trusted people that us the same account, each with different user characteristics which presumably would lead to a systems lockout.

    • Mirco Romanato

      March 5, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      multiple user, same account –> problems anyway

    • Mark Cross

      March 7, 2015 at 7:55 am

      It doesn’t tend to happen with credit usage checking algos, in the UK the system most companies use checks the transaction in a 1/600 the second. Team of ex Barclay’s bank guys based near me. My credit card one is excellent I get a phone call in minutes from fraud team. HSBC UK is appauling, I bought my car on debit card and they called me a week later! Useless.

  2. RiseFromTheAshes74

    March 5, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    What if someone were to have multiple personality disorder?

  3. tfb2014

    March 6, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Until then, I’ll keep using my password manager RoboForm. Works just fine for me!

  4. Bill Rodgers

    March 6, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Even if the strongest password is the weakest form of security, I still make sure to use a unique one for all of my logins. Highly recommend Roboform to make this easier.

  5. ebliever

    March 16, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    This is too stupid for words. They can’t be serious. So if I decide to check the weather instead of first checking headline news when I login, or I’m excited by a jump in the price of bitcoin and am typing fast as I try to access Coinbase and sell some, the system will lock me out precisely when I most want to get in? Seems to me that any biometric approach will inherently have more loopholes and vulnerabilities than a good old fashioned robust password.

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Cybersecurity

Three Hours After Re-Launch, BitGrail Shuts Down Again

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Embattled digital currency exchange BitGrail has reportedly suspended operations a mere three hours after re-launching, a move that could signal the death knell for the controversial trading platform.

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BitGrail Shuts Down After Court Order

The Italian exchange received an order from the Court of Florence on Tuesday to cease operations immediately. BitGrail was open for all of three hours before the order was handed down. All cryptocurrencies that were previously supported on the exchange were available for trade with the notable exception of Nano XRB.

On Wednesday, BitGrail issued the following statement:

“This morning, following the re-opening, we were notified of a deed by the court of Florence requesting the immediate closure of BitGrail and this situation will persist until a decision is made by the courts, about the precautionary suspension request made by the Bonelli law office on behalf of a client.”

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A final decision by the court is scheduled for May 16 2018.

Embroiled in Controversy

The Italian exchange has been mired in controversy after 17 million Nano XRB tokens went missing in February. At the time, the total value of the theft was $170 million.

At the time, BitGrail said the shortfall was caused by “unauthorized transactions,” but didn’t indicate exactly when the hack took place.

A Twitter user by the name of “Francesco the Bomber,” who apparently runs the exchange, later confirmed that the funds were stolen and that the exchange didn’t have the capital to repay its customers. However, developers who used to work with Francesco claimed that the exchange was solvent long before the attack took place. This fact was concealed by BitGrail for as long as possible.

For its part, Nano XRB managed to recovery in the wake of the attacks, with prices reaching a high near $17 in early March. The cryptocurrency has nearly doubled in value over the last three weeks as part of a broader upward correction in the market.

The Nano Foundation has established a fund to assist BitGrail users affected by the attack. The Foundation says it will match donations to the fund for up to $1 million.

BitGrail was the second largest attack of a digital currency exchange this year. In January, cyber criminals made off with around $530 million worth of NEM tokens following an attack on Coincheck, a Japanese exchange.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Cybersecurity

Facebook Stock Has Best Day in Two Years as Zuckerberg Testifies

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Shares of Facebook Inc. (FB) gained on Tuesday, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before U.S. lawmakers over allegations of data misuse.

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Zuckerberg Gets Likes

Mark Zuckerberg apologized and defended his company on Tuesday as he appeared before a joint U.S. Senate committee hearing. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” the 33-year-old CEO said when questioned about Facebook’s misuse of user data.

Lawmakers grilled Zuckerberg on issues ranging from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal to its failure in addressing provocative messages during the most recent Myanmar crisis. He took it all in stride, appearing confident and poised throughout the question-and-answer period (at least, that’s what professional PR experts quoted by Bloomberg had to say).

Zuckerberg took full responsibility not just for Cambridge Analytica, but for Facebook’s negligence in safeguarding consumer data. That said, Republican Senator from Iowa Chick Grassley sent a strong signal that new regulations are on the way.

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“The status quo no longer works,” said Grassley, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. “Congress must determine if and how we need to strengthen privacy standards to ensure transparency and understanding for the billions of consumers who utilize these products.”

Wall Street Responds

The testimony resonated with Wall Street, as investors scooped up shares of the battered social media company. Facebook shares added 4.5%, their best in two years. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index gained 1.7% on Tuesday and the index’s technology component rose 2.5%.

The stock surge grew Zuckerberg’s personal fortune by $2.8 billion to $66 billion, according to Forbes. That makes him the world’s seventh richest person.

Despite the gain, FB is down almost 15% from its all-time high and its current price point lags behind the 50-day and 200-day moving averages. An RSI of 48 also signals weak underlying momentum for the social media stock.

Facebook’s Declining Usage

Facebook experienced a public backlash last month amid reports that a political research firm had scraped data on 87 million people. The revelation sparked a growing debate over Facebook’s privacy standards at a time when the company was battling a noticeable decline in usage.

The social media platform declined by roughly 50 million hours per day in the fourth quarter, or 5% overall. Meanwhile, independent research from a company named Edison found a steady drop in usage among Americans aged 12 and up.

While Zuckerberg has tried to spin the decline as a good thing, it’s apparent that the platform is experiencing fewer meaningful interactions, which partially explains recent efforts to transform the News Feed.

It remains to be seen how much damage the declines will do to top and bottom line results. Facebook is expected to report its quarterly earnings report Apr. 25. Analysts are expecting per-share earnings of $1.37 for the quarter, up from $1.04 the same time a year ago.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Cybersecurity

Facebook Admits It Has Failed to Protect User Privacy

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In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has had to come clean about its privacy standards. The company recently admitted that the data on most of its 2 billion users could be compromised by malicious actors, a strong sign that the social media giant is not only misusing consumer data, but failing to protect it.

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Data on the Loose

Facebook recently announced that it has removed a feature that allows users to search for people using email addresses or phone numbers. The feature, which accounts for 7% of all searches in some regions, is being discontinued over fears that malicious users were using it to “scrape” profiles.

Mike Shcroepfer, the company’s chief technology officer, issued the following statement on Wednesday:

“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way. So we have now disabled this feature. We’re also making changes to account recovery to reduce the risk of scraping as well.”

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CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters that it was “reasonable to expect” that your information may have been accessed in this way.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal, which surfaced last month, blew the lid wide open on Facebook’s privacy standards. Since 2014, Cambridge Analytica legally obtained information on as many as 87 million Facebook users for the purpose of influencing elections. In the wake of the scandal, Zuckerberg is being summoned by U.S. Congress to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, currently scheduled for Apr. 11. The CEO has acknowledged that his company made mistakes, but this has largely failed to resonate with Facebook’s growing list of critics.

Facebook Tanks

Many say that Facebook has suffered irreversible damage since the scandal was brought to light. Faced with declining usage, severed business ties and a severe backlash from the public, Facebook shares have tanked more than 16% over the last three weeks.

Prices have fallen below the 50-day and 200-day simple moving averages, with the short-term average converging on the longer one. An RSI in the low-30s makes a strong case for Facebook’s bearish downturn, although current levels indicate that an oversold bounce is likely.

FB’s share price shed another 0.7% on Wednesday even as the major indexes gained. The S&P 500’s information technology index rose 1.4%, capping off a solid recovery for the market.

Along with the other so-called FAANG stocks, Facebook has been largely responsible for the recent tech rollover and subsequent turbulence on Wall Street. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet lost a combined $324 billion in market cap between Mar. 12 and Apr. 2.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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