There's no getting around it – passwords are inherently flawed. Whether by our own lackadaisical attitude towards passwords and security or the ever increasing pressure from more sophisticated cracking mechanisms, it’s hard to keep thieves from stealing our personal data.
Passwords are a necessary evil and don't look like they will be going away any time soon, but they are also becoming the weakest point of our security when online. Granted we have any number of biometric types of sensors that could be used to help secure our online presence, but they are generally very expensive and relegated to corporations; or they are easily fooled just like facial recognition systems being tricked by a simple photograph.
However, there is one interesting line of research being conducted at the University of California Berkley that is looking at the possibility of us using our minds, or rather brain waves, to replace passwords. While the work of Professor John Chuang, along with his students and other scholars, isn't the first to examine the use of electroencephalogram (EEG) reading of our brain waves to create "pass thoughts", it is the first to try and do it with off-the-shelf low cost equipment.
Their primary tool is the Neurosky MindSet device, which is a single-point EEG device that comes as a wireless headphones set that can be worn on your head without any complicated connections, like what you would see with traditional EEG setups. The connection between the MindSet and computer is achieved using Bluetooth.
In testing their method and equipments, the researchers had individuals perform seven menial tasks with the device. Four of the tasks were done by all of the participants, but three of them were individual tasks such as performing a specific action repeatedly. The researchers found that the readers were accurate 99% of the time.
Of course there are a couple of downsides to this as noted by the researchers. While the price of the MindSet ranges from $79.99 to $199.00, the fact that there is an additional cost could be a deterrent. Plus there is the whole thing of having to wear a silly looking headset in order to control your computer, but considering the clamoring for the Google Glasses this might be a moot point.