Device-based security solutions have gotten a lot more popular now that almost everyone has a smartphone.
Major tech companies — like Twitter, Google and Facebook — have all turned to phones as a second factor method, sending an SMS verification code after a user has entered a login. Twitter’s Digits aims to take things a step further by replacing the password entirely with SMS-based logins.
The move is chiefly aimed at targeting markets where SMS use is more widespread than email. But if it works, Digits could be the first step in replacing passwords with a device-oriented solution.
When Apple announced its latest iteration of the iPhone would have a fingerprint sensor, tech analysts predicted it would bring biometrics to the masses; the Cupertino company has a way of making niche technology mainstream.
Sure enough, fingerprint scanners popped up in HTC and Samsung phones after the iPhone 6’s debut.
Touch ID has made some great strides inside Apple’s ecosystem as a form of two-factor authentication, but security concerns have prevented the technology from completely supplanting passwords.
Do We Want To Kill Passwords?
China’s infamous Great Firewall has monitored the country’s Internet access since the late 1990s. Chinese censors block subversive websites, filter out forbidden words and phrases and target individual users.
But the rise of social media in China, particularly microblogging site Sina Weibo, has given China’s censors a new headache. Internet users will talk in code words and wordplay to get around bans.
That leads to a constant tug of war between government regulators and Weibo users over who controls the discourse online.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a long-running feud with Twitter; he’s previously banned the social media service in Turkey after its users spread corruption allegations about his government.
But the country’s Internet censorship extends outside of social media. In 2014, a new law allowed Turkey’s telecom regulator to take down sites for 24 hours without a court order and required ISPs to store information about a user’s Web traffic for up to two years.
Turkey’s control over the Internet isn’t nearly as pervasive as China’s or as politically motivated as Russia’s, but Internet watchdogs fear Erdogan’s government is looking to clamp down on free expression in the future.
In 2012, Russia passed a law allowing the government’s media regulator to blacklist websites that hosted content deemed “harmful to children.”
Since then, the country has seized on that authority to introduce a host of new restrictions on Internet use. These restrictions were meant to target child pornography, drug or suicide-related material and extremist content — the last provision is regularly used to target opposition content.
Since the U.S.’s mass surveillance programs were revealed in 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been even more vocal about exerting his control over the Russian Internet.
Saudi Arabia’s Internet restrictions have been thrown into the international spotlight thanks to the public flogging of Raif Badawi, who was convicted in 2012 of apostasy and insulting Islam on his blog.
All Internet traffic is filtered through the government’s monitoring service, which has the authority to block any content deemed “immoral” or a security risk.
The country’s state-owned telecom company, which for a long time was Saudi Arabia’s sole Internet provider, still controls which ISPs can operate in the country. And any Saudi-owned website must first register with the country’s culture and information ministry.