Passwords Hacked
In the last 5 years, news regularly headlines about mass data breaches, and yet password convenience still trumps security for most people.

Nobody has taken their password protection seriously why is why, year after year, the world's most popular log-on remains "123456." This is the password that is so obvious, it accounted for 17 percent of the 10 million compromised passwords analyzed by Keeper Security, which sells a log-in management service.

Nate Lanxon of Bloomberg suggest that maybe it is time to get rid of passwords altogether. Biometric technology—especially fingerprint scanners—have been steadily replacing the need to type in a password, which can easily be guessed by hackers wielding smart algorithms.

Now, with the world increasingly embracing voice-activated devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, companies are starting to create technology that recognizes a person's speech patterns. Facial recognition is starting to catch on as well.

"Our vision is to kill passwords completely," says Dylan Casey, vice president of product management at Yahoo!, which has suffered major security breaches.

"In the future, we'll look back on this time and laugh that we were required to create a 10-character code with upper- and lower-case letters, a number, and special character to sign in, much in the same way that today’s teenagers must laugh at the concept of buying an album on a compact disc."

The question is whether companies will be able to persuade people to switch to biometric log-ins and whether the new technology will prove any more resistant to hackers than the old-fashioned password.

Apple popularized the fingerprint scanner by embedding it in the iPhone four years ago, subsequently baking the technology into the MacBook lineup. Now Microsoft is getting into the act.

Last month, the company started to let the estimated 800 million people who use its Outlook.com, Xbox.com, Skype.com and other cloud-based features log on with a fingerprint scan on their smartphone if they so choose.

By October or November this year "you'll be able to take your phone, walk up to your Windows 10 PC and just use your thumb print to log into your PC," says Alex Simons, who's in charge of products within Microsoft identity division.

Is the new technology hacker-proof? Barclays' Simon Separghan is sanguine about the bank's voice-activated log-in system and says there have been no breaches so far.

"We're very confident that the system is as unique as your fingerprint," he says. "So whether or not people are doing impressions or tape recordings and playing them back, the system has the ability to detect that."