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While swipes, passcodes, and passwords do their best to keep the unwanted out, they still leave your phone quite vulnerable to hacking. Tech companies are currently looking for new technologies to improve security. One answer that has been getting more and more attention lately has to do with what is known as biometrics.
Biometrics encapsulates technologies that use unique biological and physical characteristics for authentication purposes. Fingerprints, body odor, and even your stride can help differentiate one user from another.
Because of their individuality and integrity, biometrics has been gaining a lot attention, even going so far as to see inclusion in the recent iPhone iteration.
Besides fingerprinting, multiple options exist, each with discernable pros and cons. In the remainder of this article, we will highlight a handful of the options that exist that could be used in future smartphone security technology.
Facial recognition is a viable option for authentication, enabled by the capability of existing cameras to facilitate the service. The technology has been around for some time, ever since the Android 4.0 operating system. However, extensive steps will need to be taken in order to improve its integrity and plug security holes.
According to the firm Bionym, the human heartbeat is as unique as a fingerprint. The claim is not without veracity. IEEE has published a paper detailing the quality of the technique, which provides a strong case for integrity, consistency, and accuracy in implementation. The requirement of additional hardware may pose a commercial hurdle to ubiquity.
The iris, which includes the colored tissue surrounding the retina, provides a sufficiently unique profile as to enable authentication. By taking a picture using existing cellphone cameras with the assistance of minimally invasive infared light, cell phone manufacturers can implement the technology at little additional cost.
Addition of infrared light may increase form factor and cost of devices and will require a new generation of hardware development to see implementation.
The configuration of blood vessels that feed the retina reflect differing amounts of light than the surrounding tissue. Low-energy infared light is shined onto the back of the eye in order to capture this profile, and that picture is used to authenticate the device.
This method is likely the most secure as well, since the scan can factor in the natural movement of the eye when subjected to this light, which renders fake retinas and photographs a futile counterfeit effort. However, hardware, questions of privacy, and invasiveness represent significant hurdles to overcome.
In addition to hardware and commercial concerns, new authentication methods raise questions of privacy. With public outcry over recent National Security Administration revelations, the prospect of placing unique biological identifiers in the hands of others represents a psychological hurdle for those wishing to implement the technologies.
Firms developing new authentication methods will, for this reason, need to prove both the integrity of their solution and the security of its storage.
Only time will tell which option(s) will end up being successfully adopted and used as viable smartphone security methods. Which would you prefer to use? Leave a comment below.