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Are biometrics the next natural step in cybersecurity?

The clear and present cybersecurity threat requires a new kind of protection

There is an unrelenting drive to get as many devices as possible into the ever-increasing web network but this raises big questions about security.  Many agree that IoT presents a larger attack surface for hackers looking for a weak endpoint device. Cisco’s prediction that IoT devices will increase from fifteen billion in 2016 to 200 billion in 2020 puts many IT professional’s fears in perspective.

In the wake of growing cyber crime incidents and the ever expanding attack vector created by new endpoint devices, businesses are seeking options to combat this potent threat. How do they protect their customer data and intellectual property?

For obvious reasons, the banking industry seems to be at the receiving end of much of the hacking onslaught. They face a challenges as the traditional PIN-based security system is no longer tenable under the present cybersecurity climate. Greater security has become a way of life, but the hackers always find a way in somehow.

Biometrics Takes the Center Stage

Some predict that about one billion smart mobile devices will be equipped with integrated fingerprint sensor in this year alone. “Practice of the principle of ‘depth-in-security’ i.e. use of multiple complementing techniques to authenticate a user, will be a focus for device manufacturers in the years to come,” suggests Babak D. Beheshti, IEEE Senior Member. Microsoft’s Surface devices now come equipt with Hello, their facial recognition security. Many iPhones have fingerprint recognition and Visa has been trialing fingerprint security instead of chip and pin for card transactions. So when will the business world catch up?

The challenge businesses are facing primarily involves providing convenience and security in one package to avoid any hit to productivity. While this may not be easy to accomplish, biometrics has been in the evolutionary pipeline for years and is now looking like the solution to many cybersecurity challenges. Fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, voice authentication and iris scanners are just some of the biometric options available and in use today.

Biometrics is just as important in the public sector as it is in the private sector. According to Emerging Technologies in Public Service, a recent report published by Accenture, biometrics will play a key role in revamping government and public sector agencies’ approach to data security and privacy concerns. It found that 68% of public sector IT decision makers in the US and Europe are deploying or considering the deployment of some form of biometric security. This represents an opportunity beyond security and toward “a new level of customer service” in the public sector according to Ger Daly, senior MD for Accenture’s Defense & Public Safety division.

Biometrics-based security solutions working in combination with analytics technologies offer government agencies powerful, and previously unavailable, real-time identification and authentication capabilities, enhancing both the security and understanding of data.

Adapting the core technology for use across various industries might take some time as peculiarities, privacy concerns and vertical-specific needs will determine its application and adoption. Digitally savvy businesses have the opportunity of leveraging biometric technology to leapfrog the competition but is the technology mature and reliable enough? And what about the privacy and security of your employee and customer biometric footprint? The speed of adoption and whether this will solve all of our cybersecurity woes is yet to be seen. Only time will tell.

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