Your Friend’s Face Is The Best Protection Against Hackers

Your Friend’s Face Is The Best Protection Against Hackers

Facelock replaces traditional passwords and protects data with a face recognition system.

Marnie Kunz
  • 26 june 2014

If you’re tired of remembering complicated passwords, forgetful with numbers or just so over having a million passwords for each of your online or mobile accounts, a new system could allow you to recognize faces instead. Facelock uses photos of people that you can remember to help you unlock your accounts. By catering to people’s visual nature, Facelock has proven to be an effective way to secure accounts and protect you from hackers. The system was designed by researchers at the University of York in the U.K.

According to a study published in PeerJ, 97.5 percent of Facelock users could get into their hypothetical account a week after selecting faces for a facelock system, and a full year later that number had only dropped to 86 percent. As for security, neither strangers (0.9 percent) nor close friends and family members of the person who chose the photos (6.6 percent) had much luck cracking facelocks, and those numbers dropped even further when it came to succeeding on the first attempt.


Facelock works by allowing users to pick faces they can recognize to get into their accounts. It doesn’t rely on big celebrities or faces anyone would know. Instead Facelock allows users to choose faces that only they would recognize and urges them to pick faces that others would not know. For instance, picking a photo of your mom would not help deter hackers who know you and your family, but picking the face of a very minor celebrity – think Z list level, like someone from an infomercial – that only you would know, is the perfect strategy. Facelock users can choose faces of someone famous in a niche or obscure hobby, or even a non-famous person that would be hard for anyone else to identify.

Facelock offers an alternative to the increasingly compromised traditional password system. Password breaches have become so common that companies like eBay have urged users to change their passwords to prevent further large security breaches. By only requiring one password and a user name, the traditional password system has become all too easy for hackers to get into. The Facelock system, on the other hand, uses multiple faces and faces only the user would know, making it a much tougher system to crack.

[h/t]: Peer J, Slate, NY Mag, International Business Times, CBS


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