26 July 2013

Biometric smartphone security - Not ‘if’ but ‘when’



Industry observers, manufacturers and developers have all predicted that biometrics could have a role to play in the future of mobile security and now independent research is backing them up. New York-based research organisation Heavy Reading has published a report into smartphone biometrics, and its findings are positive.

In the report, named 'Biometrics Offer Promise for More Secure Smartphones’, Heavy Reading consultant Denise Culver looks to biometrics as a 'not if, but when' technology, while pointing to the merger and acquisition movements of the last few months as proof. Such movements certainly include Apple's July 2012 acquisition of AuthenTec, and mobile users can take that acquisition as a strong indicator of the truth in Heavy Reading's statement.

At the time of its acquisition, AuthenTec dealt in both biometric security and algorithmic encryption. However, that the latter part of the business was sold off by Apple in November 2012 – to the NFC (Near Field Communication) company Inside Secure – is an action that can only serve to strengthen belief in Apple's interest in AuthenTec's biometrics expertise.

Against a backdrop of suggested military and law-enforcement interest in the subject, Heavy Reading believes the increased use of biometrics is in part a reaction to increased publicity of “hackers and security breaches”, suggesting “Biometrics will become integrated within a wide number of mobile devices over the next two years.”

The report also notes that any implementation of biometric technologies within smartphones may not be completely without issue. This is because although consumers, manufacturers and others may be keen for such security to be implemented, a 'lack of industry standards' could deter companies from being first to market.

However, the benefits would likely outweigh the negatives. For example, undoubtedly biometric security could be of huge support to enterprise IT departments in charge of BYOD (bring your own device) policies. Such policies would need careful consideration and updating in light of the new technologies, but would likely provide greater security for company data.

Denise Culver agrees: "Not only will individuals begin to demand greater security for their personal devices, but enterprises will as well, especially as BYOD models continue to proliferate."

Culver also suggests that "Integration will be driven by smartphone and tablet manufacturers as the technology for adding fingerprint, iris, voice and other types of biometric authentication becomes better integrated and easier to optimise for mobile devices”.
- See more at: http://www.mobilesecurity.com/articles/548-biometric-smartphone-security-not-if-but-when#sthash.9rI7ESkD.dpuf

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