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Biometrics: A New Frontier for Mobile Security

Tech & Gadgets

Biometrics: A New Frontier for Mobile Security image biometrics1

We’ve relied on passwords for mobile security since the first flip phone, but with identity theft on the rise, it might be time to rethink how we protect our sensitive data. The problem is that passwords have been a standard since the beginning of the digital age. How do we replace them? Is there a better alternative?

Biometrics, the identification of users through their unique traits or characteristics, is much harder to crack than passwords. But work is still being done to ensure the technology works properly. As large tech and security companies begin to tackle the problem, let’s take a look at the progress being made and explore whether biometrics can really work on mobile devices.

Google: two-factor authentication not enough

Ever since Google revealed a hacking intrusion back in 2010, they’ve been out to replace the password. They started by offering two-factor authentication, a system that relies on a password and a smartphone to verify a person’s identity. While two-factor authentication improves data protection, it wasn’t as streamlined as some users would like. Google’s new focus has reportedly been voice recognition technology, which might be the path they pursue for Android.

Apple: something new for iOS 8?

Since Apple is both a manufacturer and software developer, mobile security is vital to the success of their devices, and PIN number protection wasn’t cutting it. In today’s keynote address, Apple unveiled the new Activation Lock feature for the iOS 7 mobile operating system. Although Activation Lock is Apple’s most sophisticated iPhone security measure to date, it’s closer to two-factor authentication than it is biometrics. The first-to-market race for biometrics is still anyone’s game.

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An upstart could replace passwords

New technology often comes from start-ups tackling problems from a different angle than the big players. Arkami has the idea of using a dongle to store your biometric information. The device, called MyIDKey, uses fingerprint authentication to verify the user and accesses the dongle’s stored information via Bluetooth. So even if you lose your dongle, no one can access it without your fingerprint.

Getting better biometrics right

Don’t forget all of your passwords just yet. Until alternatives like voice recognition and fingerprint detection are flawless, it’s unlikely you’ll see them in the general market.

Biometric mobile security brings an entirely new set of dangers to the table. For example, what if someone’s fingerprint encryption is compromised? You can’t just reset your fingerprint. As a result, companies are moving slowly to implement these new data protection methods. It has to be secure, and it has to work.

With the increasing trend of BYOD in the workplace, and the proliferation of hacking, biometrics seem like a modern necessity. But with so many vendors offering different solutions, it’ll be hard for just one to gain universal adaption. While the password has its vulnerabilities, it does have one benefit: everyone already uses it.

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