Skip to main content

A vision of the future: Better security through Microsoft’s Cortana?

Recent hacks and security breaches (cough, iCloud (opens in new tab)) keep reminding us of the need for everyone to be more vigilant about personal security, but could we use our own devices to help us do that?

“Cortana, please change all my passwords.”

“I’d be happy to. Do you have new specific passwords in mind or would you like me to pick them for you?”

“Oh, I don’t care. You pick new ones for me.”

“No problem. Just give me a few moments to log into all your accounts using your old passwords and I’ll change them… Okay, I’m finished. All your passwords have been changed to unique, 32-character, alpha-numeric random sequences. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Can you email me a list of the new passwords?”

“Certainly, but you don’t really need them since I can remember them all for you.”

“But what if I lose my phone?”

“I can access this phone’s kill switch for you.”

“But aren’t you saved on my phone?”

“I don’t live in your phone. I live in the cloud. You can always reach me using any device that can connect to the internet. Once I know it’s you I can access all your data.”

“How will you know it’s me?”

“I know you pretty well. I have your voice patterns. Your fingerprints. I even keep track of how quickly you type and how fast you text. These things alone let me identify you with a 99.9993 per cent degree of accuracy. And now that you have a smartwatch I can even use biometrics to help identify you. Every time you use your phone I check all these things to make sure it’s really you and I am constantly refining these tests as time goes by to make them even more accurate. In fact, I use all these things to generate a unique key that I use to encrypt all your data both on this phone and in the cloud. So a hacker would need to know your password, where you were at a dozen different points in time over the past six months, how fast your heart was beating yesterday after your workout, and they would need to have your fingerprints and be able to duplicate your speech patterns and text or type exactly like you do.”

“Oh… um… thanks.”

“No problem. Oh and by the way, if you want me to I can automatically change all your passwords every day or even every hour if you wish so you never need to ask me to change them again. Would you like me to do that for you?”

“Um… sure… thanks.”

“No problem.”

Read more: Why Apple needs to seriously rethink its security following the iCloud breach (opens in new tab)