Chrome OS may kill the password with Easy Unlock smartphone option

In the future, Chrome OS users may unlock their PCs just by having their smartphone nearby.

Google may be opening a new front on the war against the password with a smartphone-enabled unlock option for Chrome OS PCs. Dubbed Easy Unlock, the new test feature would "instantly unlock your Chromebook when you and your phone are nearby, no password necessary."

Easy Unlock is currently available in the dev channel of Chrome OS, but it isn't fully baked yet so it's not possible to try it out, according to Android Police, which first spotted the new feature.

Nevertheless, Chrome OS dev users can enable Easy Unlock under "chrome://flags/#enable-easy-unlock." Right now, all you get to see is some introductory material on how to enable the feature, but not the actual feature itself.

This is the second time we've seen news of a password-less autentication option for Chrome OS. In December, developer and Chromium Evangelist François Beaufort revealed the Chromium OS team was working on a "password-free screen unlock" for Chrome OS. Similar to the Chromium-Chrome ecosystem, Chromium OS is a Google-run open source project on which Chrome OS is based.

Keys to your kingdom

The big unknown for Easy Unlock is what kind of technology the feature might use to accomplish its mission. Likely candidates are Bluetooth pairing, an ad hoc Wi-Fi connection, or near-field communication (NFC).

While Bluetooth seems like the obvious answer (and is already used for authentication in some enterprise notebooks), NFC also seems like a choice candidate for Easy Unlock, since it was designed for these kinds of uses. Serious PC hobbyists who aren't afraid of a soldering iron are already playing around with homebrew NFC-based PC unlocks.

NFC is also one of Google's favorite experimental toys. The search giant uses NFC to power Google Wallet terminal transactions. The company has also experimented with NFC via Google Places business decals, and in early 2013 the company tried out password-free NFC authentication that relied on a third-party device.

During its tenure as a Google-owned company, Motorola also introduced the Motorola Skip, a small wearable NFC device that lets you unlock your phone with one tap.

The only problem right now is that Chrome OS has yet to support NFC, although the Chromium development team did start working on the feature nearly a year ago.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Googlesecuritypasswordschromeos

More about GoogleMotorolaNFC

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ian Paul

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place