MWC 2019: Startup Wants to Replace Passwords With Pins on Pictures

By Tom Pritchard on at

There are a lot of problems with passwords, and that's why the tech industry has been doing their best to try and eliminate the things forever. Not only can they be hard to remember, they're not really all that secure. Certainly not if you just use the same password for everything. One startup has an interesting idea, though. What if your password was bits of a picture?

PixelPin's system is a bit like a PIN code, but instead of using a string four digits you login by placing four pins onto a picture in the right sequence. The idea here is that it's a more secure solution than an alphanumeric password, and the fact there are thousands of pixels in a single image (and an even larger number of combinations) means it's significantly harder to crack with brute force. In fact PixelPin says the system can't be hacked with brute force, which is a pretty bold claim.

You can see the system in place in the video above, replacing the need for a password or biometric authentication that's really quite simple to use. It looks as though you have to be quite precise with how you place the pins, though. I saw PinPixel in action at MWC, where one of the pins was slightly off target and naturally wouldn't unlock everything. Fortunately it was possible to zoom in with a magnifying glass similar to those employed by smartphone keyboards, and get the pin placed in the right place.

PinPixel is supposed to be easy to implement across all devices, and it seems like a pretty clever idea. With the extreme number of cybersecurity breaches people have to contend with, it's been obvious for a while that passwords don't work as well as they should. They are, after all, only as secure as the people who create them, as evidenced by the people who keep using things like 'password123' or their name.

Whether it seems a wider rollout is another matter altogether, since this will be reliant on developers and business to actually bother with something beyond the bare minimum. Let's just see what happens.