Unlocking the future of online security with biometrics
By Ronald Ravel, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa
With smartphones increasingly using biometric authentication as a theft deterrent, the potential for such techniques – which rely on the natural, inherent features of a person like their fingerprint, voice or face to confirm their identity – to become the standard in online and device security is plain to see. This is particularly clear in a world where people have been coached into implementing multiple long and complex passwords, which they are then told they must change regularly to avoid hacks. Forgotten passwords are a common bugbear: so much so that 93 per cent of consumers and banking professionals already favour biometrics over passwords and PINs in consumer financial services, according to a survey by Oxford University and MasterCard. Indeed, according to research by Technavio, the mobile biometrics market is forecast to grow by more than 79 per cent by 2021.
The first line of device defence
Devices are so often the first-line of defence for organisations and, with the new GDPR law coming into force in May next year, it has never been more important to keep sensitive online data secure. It is therefore entirely logical to look to develop a security protocol that doesn’t rely on something as fallible as the human memory. While deeper security solutions are required to guarantee the protection of business-sensitive information at a network level, devices like Toshiba’s latest X-Series, which boast biometric features such as fingerprint sensors and iris recognition are becoming a requirement for many organisations looking to minimise the threat at device-level. Similarly, Windows Hello offers Windows 10 users biometric options to simply and securely unlock their device via its facial or fingerprint recognition capabilities. The ability to combine these tools with passwords for two or three-factor authentication enhances protection further.
Advancing to voice and beyond
The evolution of biometrics has been rapid since fingerprint sensors became a popular feature in smartphones in 2013, and this is now expanding to areas including voice recognition and full-face scanning. One sector leading the way is the banking industry, where large corporations are utilising voice recognition on their banking platforms in a bid to improve security. Leading national banks such as HSBC have introduced voice ID authentication systems for an easier yet more secure log-in experience for customers. While passwords and PIN codes are already subjected to a countless number of dedicated hacking efforts aimed at prising open knowledge-locked information, biometric data is a trickier, less clear-cut and subsequently a more difficult security protocol to beat. Around 150 million people have already registered their voiceprints for authentication at contact centres, and Opus Research predicts this number will soar to 550 million by 2020.
Elsewhere, iris scanning has been deployed globally for several years as part of the transition to biometric passports for international travel – confirming passenger identities and helping to crack down on counterfeit passports. There is significant potential for iris, and even facial, recognition to become a key component in such industries – even more so as wearable devices such as smart glasses begin to infiltrate the workplace and enable real-time biometric scanning for the wearer.
Once the technology is fully consolidated, it is evident that biometrics could likely become the automatic choice for first-level security. While not quite yet a fail-safe security tool – as security firms often seek to prove – almost two-thirds of consumers already want to be able to use a biometric scan to authorise in-store payments, according to Worldpay. This demonstrates rapid and progressive adoption of biometrics security, which in turn will drive greater development within the realm of biometric security solutions.