In the not-too-distant future, consumers may no longer need to view Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) password support page, which explains the various ways that users can adjust their login settings. Instead of entering their cell phone number or another e-mail address to recover forgotten passwords (or to change the password after being hacked), users may simply be able to stick a small ring-sized dongle into their USB slot and instantly log into Google.
This concept (which the company detailed in a new research paper) may not sound like the best way to replace the existing password system. Dongles were once employed for the purpose of preventing piracy. When employed by Avid Technology (NASDAQ: AVID) and other firms, users were forced to insert a dongle (and keep it inserted) before software could be used on a particular machine.
Few consumers supported this approach. If lost or stolen, the dongle had to be replaced or the software would be useless. According to Avid's official site, “A lost or stolen dongle can be replaced for a fee based off the original cost of the software license, therefore the cost will vary.”
Most software makers have avoided using dongles for these and other reasons. Now Google wants to mainstream the concept by attaching passwords to them.
Long-term, the search engine giant hopes that a single validated device (such as a smartphone) will work as a key to validate computers and other devices, eliminating the need for a dongle. This is a fresh take on the concept -- but it is still a dongle at its core.
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Passwords are far from perfect. However, it is unlikely that this dongle system would be any better. While it may allow users to one day log into a bank website without having to remember a complex password, it could open the door for a host of other problems.
What happens when a user's cell phone dies and needs a charge? Will he or she be unable to log into a particular account until the device is rejuvenated? What if a user loses his or her smartphone? How quickly can a replacement device become a new dongle?
In those scenarios, Google would likely offer other options for logging in -- a password system, if you will. Thus, the dongle would serve no purpose outside of making life easier for those who wish to employ their smartphones in this regard.
That alone could allow the firm to benefit from this experiment. While innovation may have been what the company was seeking, customer satisfaction should prove to be a decent runner-up.
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