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Are biometrics set to improve business security?

The iPhone 5S was released last week; one of it?s most noted and discussed features is the Touch ID finger print scanner. The finger print scanner is located discreetly in the home screen button, and? allows users to unlock their phones with one touch.

Entering a four digit PIN at the ATM may not be much hassle, but entering a PIN every time you want to unlock your phone can become frustrating; there is always the swipe lock option, but this option lacks the same security as a PIN. Apple seem to have satisfied a need within the market for a secure, quick way to unlock your handset.

Biometrics, meaning the use of physical traits for identification and security, have been around for years, mainly in high security organisations, with finger print scanners on PC?s and laptops already popular within the business sector (although over the years concerns regarding their reliability and security have arisen). However in general, existing biometric technology is expensive, and bulky; putting it out of reach for the average business. Since Apple?s launch of the new Touch ID, biometrics are becoming a talked about issue.


What does biometric security mean for businesses?

One the one hand, something unique such as a finger print offers higher security than a PIN, in the fact that no one can overlook your finger print ?password?. On the other hand, finger prints aren?t private; they are left on any surface we touch, anywhere we go. In 2002 a Japanese cryptographer found a way to fool finger print devices using kitchen supplies and gelatine found in gummy bears.

However traditional passwords can be easily ?cracked? by high powered computers, and added ?something you know? questions can be easily discovered through simple questioning/research. Biometric security implemented correctly could provide complete security for businesses.

If Apple set the trend with this new technology, and no major faults are found it is inevitable that finger print scanners will become the norm on all mobile handsets, and no doubt the technology will be developed for iPads and tablets.

Matthew Finnie, CTO at Interoute, the owner operator of Europe’s largest cloud services platform, states-

“Rather than focusing on the security merits and nuances of the devices, attention should shift to how businesses should secure and control corporate data and make relevant parts securely accessible from anything, anywhere.”

Highlighting the importance of securing the entire corporate network and cloud, as opposed to focusing solely on device security.

Fingerprinting alone seems a risky, particularly as a single layer protection for potentially confidential business information; but if corporate data is securely controlled in the ?cloud? the iPhone5S Touch ID will surely be a quicker, easier device for screen unlocking.

Providing that Apple?s Touch ID proves to work smoothly and seamlessly, the rest of the industry will surely follow. If the technology is accepted and trusted by the public, biometric security will surely continue to develop, providing innovative and more secure ways to protect our devices and data.

An interesting biometric device currently on the market in the US (but still in development) is the Nymi, a plastic wrist band that when worn measures the wearers unique cardiac rhythm. The Nymi can be worn all day, and can be connected to a mobile device; depending on the proximity set by developers the Nymi can then identify the user to the device.

Overall, there may be some faults with finger scanning alone, but with Apple introducing the idea and technology to the mainstream market, biometric security is set to develop?and grow, potentially replacing hard to remember passwords and becoming more of a norm in our everyday lives.