The latest version of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system offers users a unique way of employing gesture and images as an alternative to passwords when logging onto their machines.
Rather than using an alphanumeric string of characters, Windows 8 picture password allows users to choose an image and designate a sequence of gestures over that photo to verify their identity.
The login method plays well with Windows 8’s touch-focused characteristics. However, an article for PCWorld.com notes that this feature might only serve to alienate further Windows 7 die-hards or those skeptical of the popular OS’s successor.
That would be unfortunate because the picture-based log on could make it life easier for users of tablet devices. It could be far simpler to trace gestures over a screen image than trying to tap out an alphanumeric combination on a virtual keyboard.
They may be simpler, but picture passwords are no more secure than traditional plaint text passwords. In 2010 researchers at the University of Pennsylvania coined the term “smudge attack” when they managed to unlock gesture passwords on Android phones from smudge marks left on the screen, the report said.
Here’s how to create a Windows 8 picture password:
-First create a plain text, alphanumeric password linked to your account just in case things go wrong
-Next press the Win-W key combination and search for Picture Password. Under the Settings category click Change to create a picture password
-Enter your plain-text password when asked. You’ll be shown a quick animation about the types of gestures and pictures you can assign
-Click the Choose picture button to browse to your preferred director and pick an image
-Once you pick an image, you’ll be asked to position it on your desired location on the screen. Then click the Use this picture button
-Next you can start imputing your desired gesture. You can use your fingers or your mouse
-Avoid taps. Use circular gestures instead because they’re harder to guess
-Avoid using gestures that follow the contours of an image or drawing lines between landmarks, they are predictable moves
-Pick an image with strong contrast to create bright reference points
-User a creative or complicated series of gestures
-You can switch to plain text password by clicking on the corresponding button in the left pane of the picture password screen
-Remember picture password logins can be disabled from the Windows 8 group policy editor