Yukikeys in a website screenshot

London - Passwords have become an increasing problem for many – but Google could be set to replace them entirely.

The search giant is experimenting with USB keys, cellphones and even jewellery that can act as a physical “key” to give users access to their account.

The firm’s security bosses are set to publish their findings next month – and say they could soon be commonplace.

In the upcoming issue of IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, Google’s vice-president for security, Eric Grosse, and engineer Mayank Upadhyay are set to detail what is basically a physical key with a “smart chip” embedded in it.

“Along with many in the industry, we feel passwords and simple bearer tokens such as cookies are no longer sufficient to keep users safe,” the pair write in their paper, according to Wired.

To log on, users simply place the tiny USB drive into their computer.

The firm is also believed to be experimenting with wireless chips that are built into some cellphones and which can even be built in jewellery.

“We’d like your smartphone or smartcard-embedded finger ring to authorise a new computer through a tap on the computer, even in situations in which your phone might be without cellular connectivity,” the team write.

One option uses a tiny USB key called a YubiKey.

When the user plugs the key into a latop, they are automatically logged into all of their Google accounts – without having to type in a password. Another option uses a “smartcard-embedded finger ring to authorise a new computer through a tap on the computer”.

The firm is also believed to be addressing the obvious problem with the system – users losing their “key”. It is thought to be developing a simple system to replace them.

However, the pair say they will have to rely on websites to support the scheme.

“Others have tried similar approaches but achieved little success in the consumer world,” they write.

“Although we recognise that our initiative will likewise remain speculative until we’ve proved large-scale acceptance, we’re eager to test it with other websites.” – Daily Mail


The tiny key can be used in any machine with a USB drive, and acts as a physical ‘key’ to unlock the user’s account.

It can automatically log users into all of their accounts, and even into their favourite websites, without ever asking for a password.