BitID Replaces ‘Sign in with Facebook’ with Secure Bitcoin Alternative

Journalist:
Kyle Torpey @kyletorpey
May 5, 2014
You just need to scan a QR code if you want to login with Bitcoin through BitID.

When people say that currency is only the first app of Bitcoin, this is the kind of stuff they’re talking about. Most Internet users are now used to the idea of logging into other websites with their Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts, but BitID is a new application that would allow anyone to easily login to any website in a somewhat anonymous manner. Those of you who are creeped out by the idea of attaching other websites to your Facebook account can now rejoice because you will soon be able to login to participating websites with nothing more than a signed message from your Bitcoin address. This new application actually offers a rare combination of convenience and security, and we could be looking at the future of a more secure login process when this technology is combined with Bitcoin hardware wallets. We’ve talked about other blockchain-based login replacements in the past, such as Keyhotee and Namecoin, but this is a somewhat different approach that is built directly on top of the original Bitcoin blockchain.

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How Does it Work?

[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]hen it comes to securely logging into any website, most people understand that some form of two-factor authentication is usually required. There are plenty of websites that will send you a text message or connect to your phone with the Google Authenticator app to help you securely log into a website, but BitID allows you to simply scan a QR code with your phone whenever you’d like to access your account. The private key for the online account is stored on the secondary device, usually a smartphone, so all you’re really doing is signing a message with the private key attached to the public key that is being displayed during the login process. Without access to the private key stored on the secondary device, there is no way to access your account.

The Benefits of BitID

There are a few basic advantages of using BitID over some of the other login options available right now. In addition to keeping the prying eyes of big tech companies out of the rest of your Internet activity, there is also the possibility that this new login solution could actually be both more secure and more convenient than current options. Many people have talked about the idea of hardware devices replacing traditional login credentials in the past, and this could be a step in that direction. Here are some of the basic benefits of switching to BitID:

  • Scan a QR code to login to websites instead of typing in a username and password
  • Don’t associate your Google, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account with other sites on the web
  • Enhanced security when paired with an offline device

What if Your Phone is Hacked?

While using this new login option with a phone that is connected to the Internet will be generally secure, there are still paranoid individuals out there who want to go the extra mile when it comes to securing their login credentials. BTChip is a hardware wallet that connects to desktop computers and laptops through Bluetooth, and the team behind that project is currently working on implementing the BitID protocol for its device. BitID could also work with something like the TREZOR hardware wallet if a Chrome extension was also built specifically for the hardware. These kinds of devices are highly anticipated by Bitcoin users just for securely storing their bitcoins, but it seems that they’ll also be able to act as cold storage devices for their various forms of online identification.

Last modified (UTC): May 5, 2014 16:53

Kyle Torpey @kyletorpey

Kyle is a freelance Bitcoin writer and the Marketing Director for Bitcloud. His work has been featured on Business Insider, VICE Motherboard, Let's Talk Bitcoin, and RT's Keiser Report . You can follow him on Twitter (@kyletorpey) or send him an email.