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Yahoo Wants To Secure Accounts With Your Friends' Pictures

By - Source: USPTO | B 16 comments

Your exposure on social networks can enable a rather unusual solution for general computing applications.

For example, a future computer system may question you about who you know and who you do not and grant you access to the system based on your answers.

Yahoo has filed a patent application based on this idea and calls the technology "non-textual security using portraits." In effect, the system could take some pictures of your Facebook friends and then add some random pictures of those who you do not know. You will have to indicate which people you know and may be asked to state their names. The system could expect you to know the names of those who are social network friends and determine those that were randomly thrown into the mix, but Yahoo explicitly states that this technology would be applied when users cannot or do not want to enter text.

We have some doubt that this security approach can ever make it into a real-world implementation. Those with only three friends are screwed right off the bat and an easy target for hackers. Those who are on a mission to outfriend their peers and claim to have thousands of friends on Facebook may be completely locked out of their account when they can't remember all those pictures. Of course, we also have to hope others don't post anything else other than their face as a profile picture.

 

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Top Comments
  • 19 Hide
    olaf , August 25, 2012 11:02 PM
    what about those that are Alergic to Facebook , like myself :p 
  • 18 Hide
    Camikazi , August 25, 2012 10:40 PM
    OMG this is gonna suck for those 3000 friend people.
  • 13 Hide
    steelbox , August 25, 2012 11:08 PM
    Facebook already uses this, when you connect from several diferent computers or using Tor often, facebook will show you a picture of one of your friends and ask who he is. Has Yahoo taken a training course with Apple?
Other Comments
    Display all 16 comments.
  • 18 Hide
    Camikazi , August 25, 2012 10:40 PM
    OMG this is gonna suck for those 3000 friend people.
  • 19 Hide
    olaf , August 25, 2012 11:02 PM
    what about those that are Alergic to Facebook , like myself :p 
  • 5 Hide
    N.Broekhuijsen , August 25, 2012 11:08 PM
    olafwhat about those that are Alergic to Facebook , like myself

    Good thing we're allergic to Yahoo! as well. :) 
  • 13 Hide
    steelbox , August 25, 2012 11:08 PM
    Facebook already uses this, when you connect from several diferent computers or using Tor often, facebook will show you a picture of one of your friends and ask who he is. Has Yahoo taken a training course with Apple?
  • 6 Hide
    snowzsan , August 25, 2012 11:08 PM
    You'd still have to enter text...

    Not only that, but even on my Facebook friends list I have a few who enter completely fictional names like "Tom 'Sawyer' Phillips" or something equally as mundane. That would make entering their names correctly either extremely difficult or downright impossible.

    In other words, this is completely stupid and useless. I'm usually optimistic about cool new things but this... You just can't account for human stupidity.
  • 1 Hide
    Inferno1217 , August 25, 2012 11:44 PM
    big Brother?
  • 2 Hide
    digiex , August 26, 2012 12:37 AM
    This feature is already in Facebook, if you forgot your password and want to reset it, It ask you to identify some of your friends' pictures.

    The only downside is that some people in Facebook tags some objects not associated with the person's face.

    So if happens that an "apple" comes out as your friend's picture how will you identify that person.
  • 1 Hide
    ravewulf , August 26, 2012 1:15 AM
    The problem of having a lot of friends is easily solved by using a user approved list of close friends. Different friends using the same picture can be filtered out by computing how similar their pictures are.

    The bigger security problem is how relatively public your friend list is. If it isn't outright public, friends of friends can probably still see it. Any friends you have in common or your friends themselves would be able to get by this with relative ease. In the extreme case you and your friends could be relatively well known to the public. The security is essentially 0 if your friends are famous. This is even true in a small community. Tom's Hardware staff for example. If they are all friends and their profiles are public it is much more of a security risk than benefit.
  • 1 Hide
    pharoahhalfdead , August 26, 2012 1:43 AM
    If I don't even give factual information about myself, what makes them think I'm gonna drop a dime on my friends? lol
  • 1 Hide
    pharoahhalfdead , August 26, 2012 1:45 AM
    If I don't even give factual information about myself, what makes them think I'm gonna drop a dime on my friends? lol. I'm not as naive as they look.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 26, 2012 2:11 AM
    i smell patent lawsuit or denial

    facebook vs yahoo
  • 2 Hide
    eddieroolz , August 26, 2012 2:49 AM
    Brilliant, though this approach may be a security risk in itself.
  • 0 Hide
    majudhu , August 26, 2012 10:28 AM
    what if the guy on the picture is hijack....
  • 4 Hide
    husker , August 26, 2012 3:09 PM
    Close friends could know your other friends. How is this secure?
  • 1 Hide
    Burodsx , August 26, 2012 7:18 PM
    So Facebook uses something like this to unlock your account, and it sucks. People post pictures of all kinds of crap. "Who is in this photo" *it's a picture of a cartoon...*
  • 0 Hide
    LukeCWM , August 27, 2012 4:59 PM
    I read about something like this more than ten years ago in a fiction book. A company used it for secure door locks: you're shown pictures of 9 people, one of which you use frequently, but the people are wearing different outfits in different settings. You choose the one you recognize and can open the door. The theory is that it is very hard for people to reliably distinguish one person for another when they don't know the people, and things like outfits and hair color and ethnicity are out of the equation.