If there’s one thing that unites everyone on the internet, it’s frustration with passwords.
No-one likes having to remember them. People have poor memories and just get lazy. It’s so much easier to type mom’s dog’s name than to try and memorize a 16-character string of random letters and numbers. Especially if mom helpfully called her dog “1234.”
The team at Mozilla feel your pain, and want to do something about it. They’ve come up with a new idea called BrowserID. Here’s how it works.
You sign up for a BrowserID and tell them your email address. They email you a link, which you have to click to prove that the email address you gave really does belong to you. While you’re signing up, you also have to pick a new password. But hopefully, it will replace lots of the other passwords you have to deal with every day. Hopefully. Think of it as a Master Password. One to rule all the others, and in the darkness bind them. Or something.
Now, you go browsing around the web and decide to log in to some service that supports BrowserID. Instead of having to enter a different username and password, you click a button marked “Log in with BrowserID” – then you just choose the email address you want to log in with, and you’re done.
You might have to enter your BrowserID password, but if you’re already logged into BrowserID, even that won’t always be necessary.
Is that it then? Is that the end of the tyranny of passwords? Um, no, not quite.
Services like this take a long time to spread around the net. Webmasters have to read up about them, decide whether or not to join in, and make changes to their websites if they do. What’s more, there are competing services – Facebook has been allowing people to use their Facebook account as a login ID for other sites for a while now.
There are also desktop software packages that do a similar job. BrowserID is open source, though, and free.
Secure authentication is a hard nut to crack. Everyone agrees that passwords fail because people get lazy, and they’re too easy to crack. But finding a system that’s secure and simple to use is a significant challenge.
It remains to be seen how much take up there is for Mozilla’s new service.
[via Mozilla Blog]