How many times do you need your password reset because you forgot it? Do you use the same password for everything, including accessing online banking? Your work computer? Your social media?
Biometrics is a term that refers to measuring unique individual characteristics such as the retina, the iris, fingerprints or even the face. But, today, the term is generally used by most people to describe a method for securing computers and stored data requiring a user to undergo a scan of the body part used for recognition. While many systems use a fingerprint or retinal scan as a user password, systems that are serious about security often use a password and a biometric scan before unlocking the computer or device.
We are currently using some of these controls in our lives now- fingerprint scanners on cell phones and computers, facial recognition in pictures on Facebook and the ability to log into a Microsoft Surface. This will continue to be developed and improve security and our lives dramatically.
Experts in computer security predict that by 2020 all smartphones will be equipped with an app that performs some sort of biological scan. Users are spending more time using their smartphones for functions such as banking, bill paying, and appointment making, which tells us that personal identifying information (PII) and personal financial information (PFI) will soon take up residence on our smartphone.
Without great security, lost or stolen phones with less advanced security than biometrics offers are more likely to make you a victim of identity theft.
I’m Convinced – What Biometrics Are Available Now?
Verification of you by your computer system comes in a few ways:
- Something you know, such as a password or PIN (personal identifying number);
- Something you carry, such as a flash drive or a proximity card; or
- The use of biometrics to authenticate you as an authorized user.
Most cybersecurity experts are in agreement that password protection is too weak, with today’s sophisticated hackers easily using black hat tools that can decode passwords and get into your system and the data stored on it.
Also, using a flash drive or a proximity card is almost universally dismissed by experts as being ineffective since they can be lost or stolen.
The solution to security on your entire computer system or on your smartphone is biometric authentication. Today, biometrics are already being used, and the future seems to favor their increased use as more desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, and phones will have them as standard security measures. So, what are the common types of biometrics in use?
Biometrics in the Workplace
The technology has evolved to become a more integral way to prove our identities and it won’t be too long until biometrics plays a larger role to verify our identities for patient identification in healthcare, time and attendance in the workforce, and banking access. Which parts of our life and business will change the most by biometrics? Here are some examples:
- Security: Most people are concerned about the security protection of using passwords. Using a password storage app is very dangerous. It is almost certain that within the next few years, biometrics will be a standard feature in every phone with fingerprint scanners built into every screen, facial recognition through the camera function, and voice recognition through the microphone. NEC is developing a biometric system that measures the reflection of sound waves when they bounce off the tympanic membrane. In essence, NEC is working on a method that measures how sound bounces off your inner ear. Research shows that this type of system has a 99 percent reliability factor, so expect it on your device in the not-too-distant future. I would also look at retinal scanning as another biometric feature that will be in play in the not too distant future.
- Payments: Biometrics are already in play with technology that uses unique traits mentioned before in fingerprint and facial recognition, and some have already began to develop retinal and vein recognition. Companies like Apple and PayPal have already begun to develop biometric based payment solutions. Imagine not having to carry cash, checks, and credit or debit cards! This has already been developed and is in use, but will be widely used in the future.
- Data Access: PCs are full of data or linked to servers that are the heart of a business. We use passwords to access this data and 89% of employees will use the same or similar password for their work devices as their home devices, social media, and bank accounts. Microsoft has already integrated fingerprints and IRIS recognition in Windows 10. This will continue to be developed, along with voice recognition, allowing employees to access PCs and other devices.
The combination of biometrics and smartphones, PCs, and laptops is bound to fundamentally change access control, financial transactions, personal data security, and many other areas of our lives.
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