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Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects (ATAP) unveiled a bundle at the group’s I/O keynote this morning, but two of the most interesting presentations dealt with passwords, or “relics,” as division head Regina Dugan called them. “Passwords suck,” she explained, for a variety of reasons. According to ATAP’s data, 70 percent of users forget their passwords, and don’t often do a very good job creating hard-to-crack phrases besides — “Humans are a bad source of entropy,” Dugan said. In an effort to develop more reliable security, ATAP developed Project Abacus, an analytical system based on machine learning, and Project Vault, a cryptographic MicroSD card.

The scale of Project Abacus was so vast that ATAP sought outside help — Dugan said the department recruited 25 researchers from 16 institutions to participate in development. With the added brainpower and the help of hundreds of volunteers, they managed to create a new method of authentication that Dugan said is not only 10 times more secure than the best fingerprint sensor available, but also entirely based in software — it requires no special operating system or hardware.

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