In Brief

Google to replace passwords with 'trust scores'

Trust AI software could see end of traditional security measures for Android users

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Google looks set to abandon traditional passwords in favour of a new "trust score" system on Android-powered devices.

Trust API monitors how users operate their phones and builds a profile based on numerous factors to determine if a device is in the right hands.

According to The Guardian, the feature was introduced to developers at this year's annual Google I/O conference and will go through initial tests with "several very large financial institutions in June". Should this prove a success, the system could be available to Android developers by the end of the year.

Trust API was developed under the name Project Abacus last year and is intended to turn password security on its head, continues the paper. Google believes that, instead of one password or code, stacking several potentially weaker parameters on top of each other is the way forward.

The system will work using a mix of factors. Biometric data, such as face shape and vocal patterns are some of the more obvious ones, while others would rely on passive data collection throughout the day, such as users' locations and how they use their phones to the way they swipe and key in letters. All of these factors together generate a trust score.

The Independent says it would be "much harder" for a password thief to actually mimic the way someone uses their phone day in day out and that Google believes Trust API  will be ten times more secure than the fingerprint scanners fitted to most top-end mobile devices today.

The system also adds a degree of variance to security, meaning developers can build apps and websites needing with several levels of clearance. For instance, users could access their bank balance with just a trust score, although actually moving money around may require a fingerprint scan or passcode on top. Trust-score thresholds could be altered on a case-by-case basis for different services.

However, the added security may not sit comfortably with everyone. BGR says it "remains to be seen if users are open to the idea of their phone effectively keeping tabs on them in exchange for an ostensibly more convenient user experience".

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