ZenKey, Is This The End For Passwords?

Published On October 8, 2019 | By Tom Huskerson | News and Analysis, Now You Know

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to remember all your passwords. For cyber security puposes we preach about not using the same pasword on multiple sites. So now you have a hundred passwords that contain upper case, lower case special symbols and numbers. Password managers help but it is still a hassle. Especially if you are not using you own device to login somewhere. Can ZenKey change all this?

For some time now the big tech compnaies have been trying to kill the password. MicrosoftGoogle, and Apple have been working on it and now the cellphone companies are joining the murder plot.

America’s biggest mobile service providers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, and Verizon Wireless have joined forces to bring about a new authentication system intended to manage your logins without a password.

Originally announced last September under the name of Project Verify ZenKey works just like any other single sign-on service (SSO). This includes those from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and most recently Apple. It allows the user to approve login requests from other websites and apps on a device you own, you guessed it, your cell phone. Thus, no more passwords?

Online authentication is the product of one or more of three factors. A password or your location is something you know. A cell phone or other device is something you have. And your fingerprint, your face or even your retina is something you are. Known as a biometric. Two factor authentication and passwordless systems uses two of the three factors to replace your password.

Your identify is verified through a multi-factor profile linked to your mobile device. It takes into account the subscriber information from your cell service, including IP address, SIM card details, phone number, phone account type, and your fingerprint or face.

There are still some questions that need to be answered. Will major online businesses and services be on board with ZenKey? This includes banks, social media, retail, utilities, and pretty much everyone else. If industry does not buy in to the ZenKey SSO this thing is dead in the water.

ZenKey has some advantages against other SSO systems. ZenKey claims to allow users full control over the information that’s required to sign-up for each service. They can choose to “opt out at any time to stop sharing that information.”

But there is another question we have to answer when it comes to ZenKey. Can we trust our wireless carriers?

Last year, if you remember, all the four carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, were caught red handed leaking the locations of customer phones in the U.S. with an accuracy of within a few hundred yards. After being busted selling location data the companies agreed to stop selling their customers’ location information to third-party data brokers.

There is also the potential for SIM swapping attacks. SIM swapping is a social engineering attack carried out by cybercriminals to trick phone carriers into transferring their victims’ cell services to a SIM card under their control. If someone can get your number swapped, they could potentially access your online accounts too.

ZenKey just might work but there is already a competitor with clout in the game. Apple is touting its privacy efforts with “Sign in with Apple.”

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About The Author

Tom Huskerson Bio Born in Richmond Virginia Tom Huskerson is a military veteran who settled in California after his discharge. Tom attended Santa Barbara City College where he began his writing career as a campus reporter. He worked as an intern news reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press writing feature stories before moving on to San Francisco. At San Francisco State University Tom studied broadcast communications and began to focus on the Internet. He completed his graduate thesis on Internet advertising. Tom was the first student to ever focus on the Internet as a graduate student at San Francisco State University. After graduation he went to work for Zona Research in California’s Silicone Valley. As a research associate Tom supported senior analyst writing on the latest developments in the Internet industry. During the dot com boom Tom worked for several web businesses as a market researcher and analyst. As a writer and researcher Tom has authored various technical works including a training program for Charles Schwab security. Other projects included professional presentations on workplace violence and hiring security contractors. Tom has also written both fiction and non-fiction works and blogging for a travel website. He has published two books of short stories and completed two novels. Tom is the owner of Scribe of Life Literature and EbonyCandle.com. Tom is not the chief editor for the OnTechStreet. com. A news and information blog that focuses on tech news for African-Americans. The blog is the result of his desire to inform the African American community of the dangers and benefits of the cyber age. In his blog Tom reports on information security, new and analysis, scams and hoaxes, legal happenings and various topics that arise from the age of information. Tom believes that technology is a necessary tool for black people and they should know what is happening. Tom writes believing that techno speak is for the professional and that valuable information can be communicated using plain language. As a result he has embraced the motto, Less Tech, More Knowledge.

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