Last week during his keynote speech at the Interop IT conference, PayPal’s Chief Information Security Officer Michael Barrett pointed to a slide depicting a tombstone for passwords with the dates 1961-2013.
According to Barrett, while passwords are still required for so many applications and services, they have simply outlived their usefulness. Barrett predicted that we will all start moving towards alternative security measures sooner rather than later, one of those being a technology called biometric security.
Biometric security refers to identifying users based on their human traits or characteristics, such as a fingerprint or eye scan. Until recently, the concept has been primarily reserved for science fiction and spy movies, and existing technologies have proven to be either unreliable or too expensive to commercialize. Still, the concept has remained attractive for security researchers. After all, an eye or a fingerprint is definitely one password that you’ll never forget.
Currently, biometrics is used in a number of industries. For instance, the FBI has long been a leader in using biometrics such as fingerprint recognition and voice patterns. Biometrics has also been incorporated into a number of financial institutions. For example, Bank United has used iris scanners for ATM access, and Barclays has used voice recognition to verify customers over the phone.
Over the past few years, the industry has matured and biometric technology has evolved to become cheaper for device manufacturers and websites. Device users are also growing more eager to embrace the technology. A new survey by Nuance reports that 90% of smartphone users would prefer voice recognition authentication, with 85% being dissatisfied with current authentication methods such as pins and passwords.
Ultimately, users at home might be closer to using biometric security than they think; this week we announced McAfee® LiveSafe™ service, the first unlimited cross-device security option to use facial and voice recognition technology. While broad adoption of biometric security options will take time, it is exciting to think about a future where are digital lives are secured through something as unique as our eye’s iris or our fingerprint.
What are your thoughts towards biometrics? Let us know in the comments below.