emoji passwordsWhat if you could use a broken heart, a smiley face, a soccer ball and an ocean wave as a PIN for your online bank account instead of four digits? UK company Intelligent Environments has developed new technology to allow people to use emojis instead of numbers to create a PIN it says will be 480 times more secure. This technology was developed for use within a banking app for Android devices the company has created. Although it has not signed a deal with any banks to use the technology so far, Intelligent Environments says several digital banks have expressed interest and it hopes to see the technology debut in the next 12 months. Is this just a gimmick, or will it change the password game as we know it?

Millennials are the prime targets of emoji passwords

According to Intelligent Environments’ research, approximately 64% of millennials communicate with only emojis on a regular basis. The animated symbols have transformed into a language of their own, and businesses of all kinds are trying to use it to their advantage. The emoji password technology is designed to appeal to users ages 15 to 25 who are most likely to embrace the idea of using symbols for their passwords rather than numbers or letters. Additionally, people are more likely to remember pictures than numbers, which could make emoji passwords less likely to be forgotten.

Mockup of the emoji password app screen from Intelligent Designs

Mockup of the emoji password app screen from Intelligent Designs

Is this technology really more secure?

Intelligent Environments says that the emoji passcode technology is 480 times more secure than the traditional PIN made up of four non-repeating digits. This is because a four-digit passcode created from 12 available numerals works out to 7,290 unique permutations, while the emoji passcode technology offers 44 non-repeating symbols for use. This works out to 3,498,308 unique permutations. Some cybersecurity experts say this could present hackers with more difficulty, while others argue that a four-emoji PIN would still be vulnerable to brute force attacks. Still, other experts say that people will make the same mistakes when it comes to creating an emoji password that they would with an alphanumeric password.

The biggest issue when it comes to implementing this kind of technology is that nobody is ready for it. Not all websites recognize emoji and traditional computers don’t have a convenient input system, which would make signing into your bank from your laptop a hassle. Creating strong, secure passwords is getting trickier, and chances are something will come along to radically change the way we protect our online accounts. For now, it’s unlikely that emoji passwords will be a thing people use anytime soon.

Learn more about protecting yourself online by following our Internet security software blog.