Biometry: the end of the password?


Your car will soon be fitted out with facial recognition or a fingerprint scanner. This means you will only be able to start your car if it recognises you. Passwords are also increasingly making way for biometry.


1. What types of biometry exist?

The most common form of biometry is probably the fingerprint scanner. Apple has made this technology rather mainstream with its Touch ID: millions of people now use or know finger scans. In turn, Microsoft applied facial recognition to log into Windows 10. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, ING uses voice recognition to identify those using the mobile app when they wish to carry out banking operations online. These all have one thing in common: you are identified on the basis of the unique characteristics of your body.


2. Is biometry safer than a password?

Humans are notoriously bad at thinking up strong passwords. The most common passwords are 'password' and '123456', which are obviously easy to guess. Biometric data on the other hand cannot be guessed. Nor can it be shared with colleagues or friends. Of course, biometry has its weaknesses. Touch ID, for example, can in principle be got around by taking a high-resolution photo of your finger and making a mould of your fingerprint. Fortunately such cases are very difficult to carry out in practice. This means that biometry is therefore less vulnerable to attack than a password.


3. Is biometry likely to be accepted?

The greatest hurdle to increasing the use of biometry is social rather than technical. A fingerprint scanner for example is all too often associated with the fingerprints a suspect needs to provide at the police station, and this has given the technique a bad reputation. Having said that, Touch ID on the iPhone has led to fingerprint scanners being more and more acceptable. Other types of biometry cause little resistance. Facial and voice recognition are even considered rather 'cool' being like something out of a science fiction film.


4. Are passwords likely to disappear?

Biometry has been around for a long time and has still not replaced the password, so the question is indeed whether this will ever happen. That passwords will disappear completely is probably a pipe dream. However, with more and more devices containing biometric technology as standard, biometrics do have a great future.


Does the use of the traditional password create too much of a risk in your company? Then take a look at the potential of biometry, and certainly now that the required technology is increasingly built into mobile devices.

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