More secure and more convenient

Research shows organisations turning to biometrics (Planet Biometrics)

“The research, based on survey results from 200 U.S. senior IT decision makers, outlines how there is a lack of confidence of passwords alone to secure data sufficiently while highlighting how organizations are moving towards biometrics to better safeguard their most critical assets.”

“Harnessing the Power of Biometrics: The overwhelming majority of respondents agree that biometrics is the most secure authentication method for both organizations (86%) and consumers (86%) to use. Respondents believe the main reasons for using biometric authentication include overall better security (63%), increased workforce productivity (54%) and better accessibility (50%).”

Usually, increasing security decreases convenience. Biometric solutions offer a rare chance for organizations to increase security and convenience at the same time and senior IT staff are starting to embrace the opportunity.


OPINION: The tipping point for biometric security (ABC – Australia)

Currently most of us depend on passwords to protect our online identities. But passwords may be the largest security liability of the internet. They have numerous weaknesses that put consumers, corporates and the wider online world at significant risk.

Ultimately, convenience, ease-of-use, speed and accuracy are appealing attributes for authentication and this will drive the adoption of biometrics.

It worked for the credit card companies…

…Adding financial-management tools and rewarding consumers could increase use of mobile phones as payment devices

Accenture survey on attitudes toward using more services via mobile platforms

More than half of respondents who currently use their smartphones to make payments said they were highly likely to pay by phone more often if they could use their phone to track receipts (cited by 60 percent of respondents), manage their personal finances (56 percent), or show proof of insurance (56 percent) or of a valid driver’s license (54 percent).

In addition, more than half of those who currently make mobile payments also said they were highly likely to pay by phone more often if they were offered: instant coupons from retailers when buying by phone (cited by 60 percent of respondents); reward points stored on their phone for future purchases at the store (51 percent); coupons that could be automatically stored on their phone (50 percent); or preferential treatment, such as priority customer service (50 percent).

India’s UID affecting the political dialogue elsewhere

The US political issue of whether or how best to confer some sort of legal status upon some individuals currently living within the United States without that legal status is getting a lot of attention. The United States’s last attempt at sweeping immigration reform was in 1986. Since then, it’s been baby steps.

The linked article provides more detail for why that might be, but the part that caught my eye is the basic formulation: “If India can execute a biometric project for over a billion people, it should be possible to apply biometrics to this, far less daunting, challenge.”

For example:
Michael Barone commentary: Stars are aligning for a law on immigration that might work (Columbus Dispatch)

So what are the reasons to think such legislation would produce different results from those of the 1986 law?

[…S]omething feasible now that wasn’t back then: an identity card linked to a database with biometric identification. India is now creating such a system for its 1.2 billion people. Why can’t we do that for many fewer immigrants and visa holders?

India’s UID project is giving the rest of the world confidence that long-neglected issues can be addressed through a combination of political will and new technology. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more examples from around the world.

News Round-up: Government Biometrics in the US

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. is beginning to use hand held biometric ID scanners for access to the base. (

NEW YORK State Senator urges biometric ID for Medicaid recipients (Buffalo News)

U.S. SUPREME COURT: Criminal DNA Collection Law Stays In Place (WRTV 6 – Indiana)
Contrary to the author’s assertion, collecting DNA after arrest and before trial isn’t controversial; it is evidence. Evidence can be used to exonerate as well as convict. Now, what happens to the evidence following a not guilty verdict is another matter altogether.

One-Time-Only ID Technologies

Palm vein biometrics for access to mobile phone recharging stations at festivals (Pocket Lint)

New this year is a palm vein reader that will identify you using the pattern of blood vessels just under your skin, saving customers that use the recharging station the hassle of wearing wristbands and showing proof of identity. According to Vodafone, it will even work if your hands are caked in festival mud.

Think of all the ways business keep track of their customers for short periods of time by issuing some sort of token: a bracelet, a hand stamp, a slip of paper with a number on it, or asking for ID for proof of age when they don’t really care who you are, etc.

For many of these cases, the business is only interested a relationship between two things, one of which is a person. In this example, the relationship is between a person and the mobile phone they leave recharging while they rush back to the Garden Stage to hear Suzanne Vega sing Tom’s Diner. But dry cleaners, coat checks, and valets all do something similar.

In other cases, the business is interested in who can go where or do what so they can administer VIP areas, determine who can use the subway, consume alcohol or see an R rated movie.

Many types of business have processes in place that are at least in part about identity management. It’ll be interesting to see if, when and how some of them look to biometrics to make things easier.

UK: Biometrics in Schools – Times have changed

Students will use fingerprint technology to pay for school dinners (This is Somerset)

When students buy food or drink they will be identified by a biometric fingerprint.

A print of the index finger is taken and it is then translated to an alpha numeric number and the image is then discarded. The number generated will be used to charge accounts.

The fingerprint captured is different to system used by the police and instead the system identifies certain points on the finger and turns them into encrypted numbers.

When students make a purchase they simply place their finger on a scanner at the till and the server will show the students name, class and current balance. It is hoped the new high tech system will also reduce the amount of time students spend queuing for their lunch.

It wasn’t too long ago when articles on this subject, especially in the UK, followed a very different template.