Google is well aware of how dangerous hackers have become. Web-based security attacks have increased about 23% since 2013, after all, and the cost of cybercrime skyrocketed 78% that same year. According to cyber security company McAfee, the global economy from cybercrime is about $400 billion.
Now, Google is taking steps to beef up its own security measures for Gmail users. Webizens are greeted with a space to enter their usernames, and are then redirected to a new page to enter their passwords. Though it may seem simple, the new design prepares for “future authentification systems that complement passwords.”
There are a few advantages of splitting the username and password fields up. It reduces confusion for users who have multiple Gmail accounts, such as one for work and one for personal use. It also provides a better user experience for college students or corporate users who might sign in using a different identity provider than Google.
The reason this new change can be seen as a big deal is because of what it implies. These “future authentification systems” Google hints at could be the future replacement of the password. Some have suggested they could be biometric authentication methods, while others think they may be similar to the lock pattern seen on Android smartphones.
Some think that the password system used to secure and access emails has become a bit outdated. It as, after all, 50-years-old now. Fernando Corbató, the man credited with creating the computer password, believes that it’s become a “bit of a nightmare,” and is only really good for preventing “casual snooping.”
He may very well be right, too. In recent years, there have been a number of security breaches that exploit password vulnerabilities, which has led some experts to believe the system is getting a bit tired, and is in need of replacing.
“The underlying issue is that the username and password system is old technology that is not up to the standard required to secure the deep information and private services that we as individuals store and access online today,” CertiVox CEO Brian Spector told IBTimes UK after a massive security breach on eBay last year. “[The eBay] incident is just the latest in a long line of attacks that highlight the need for the wider technology industry to take another look at the methods that they employ to secure services and data.”