In its seemingly unending quest to develop a security method better than the traditional password, Google has acquired a startup that specializes in authenticating identity via high-frequency sound.
Israeli-based startup SlickLogin announced the acquisition on its Website. “Google was the first company to offer 2-step verification to everyone, for free—and they’re working on some great ideas that will make the Internet safer for everyone,” read its co-founders’ note. “We couldn’t be more excited to join their efforts.” Actual terms of the deal went undisclosed, which is normal for a transaction like this.
SlickLogin’s platform allows users to place a smartphone with the right app next to a PC or tablet in order to login to various Websites, eliminating the need for text-based PINs and multiple passwords. Websites backed by SlickLogin software can play an inaudible tone through the tablet or PC speakers that the smartphone can hear, analyze, and use to confirm an identity; in theory, as long as you have your smartphone, you have streamlined access to Websites. (Of course, that also means if someone steals your unlocked smartphone, they can access Websites as “you.”)
The need for sophisticated Web security is desperate, given how black-hat hackers and other malicious sorts constantly figure out how to penetrate even the toughest systems. A recent HP Security Cyber Risk Report, for example, found that, between hardware and software and procedural vulnerabilities, the average business features a plethora of vulnerabilities. On the consumer side of things, users constantly forget passwords, lose smartphones, and otherwise expose themselves to risk; a more seamless security protocol for dealing with the Web could limit the average person’s susceptibility to cyber-attack.
Google also needs hardened security in order to convince businesses and consumers to interact with its services as much as possible—clients who might go elsewhere if they perceive the company as excessively “porous.”
But Google also makes a lot of acquisitions, and not all the assets from those new subsidiaries end up in Google products—it remains to be seen whether the search-engine giant turns SlickLogin’s technology into a standardized way of logging in.