Verizon Says Passwords Suck, QR Codes Offer Better Way

Verizon adds QR code logins to its Verizon Universal Identity Services portfolio to streamline authentication while making it more secure.

Are you sick of usernames and passwords as a method of user authentication? Verizon says it has a better way. It's beefing up its Universal Identity Services portfolio with a QR code login that enterprises can deploy to streamline logins for both internal and external users.

"Lost and stolen passwords remain the No. 1 way that systems are compromised," says Tracy Hulver, chief identity strategist for Verizon. "We continue to see usernames and passwords fail as a secure way to login no matter how complex the password. With Verizon's QR code login, we are making progress in protecting users without increasing the hassle, headache or expense for the user and the enterprise."

Hating on passwords is a popular stance among information security professionals these days, and with reason -- data breach after data breach in which passwords have been revealed demonstrate that many users choose weak passwords and reuse them across the Internet. According to security applications and services provider SplashData, the most popular password in 2013 was "123456," and the second-most popular choice was "password." Other users maintain strong passwords, but write them down.

The sheer number of passwords people are expected to juggle these days is almost certainly a contributing factor. In some ways, the username and password have become more liability than protection online.

"Username and passwords are not secure anymore," Hulver says. "The attempts we've made as an industry to make them better just aren't working. So how do we solve this problem? Because you're dealing with the mass population, it has to be something that anyone can use and it has to be easier or at least not more difficult than what they're doing today. At the same time, it has to raise the security posture of organizations."

Verizon's solution is the QR code. Users enroll for a Verizon Universal ID from a participating Web page and then download a mobile app that can scan a dynamically generated QR code on a login page. For instance, if your bank uses Universal ID, you could log in to your account by using your phone to scan a QR code on the login page. To make a login even more secure, the bank could also require the customer to enter a PIN, password or answer to a security question.

"The beauty of the QR code is its flexibility," Hulver says. "It can be used alone or with other stronger measures to give enterprises and their users just the right level of security simply and easily."

The QR code login is a new feature of Verizon's Universal Identity Services portfolio, but the portfolio also includes other options, including one-time passwords generated on a mobile device, texted to a device or even delivered via landline call or email.

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