Biometrics – The Future of Cybersecurity

How Biometric Technology Is Used For Cybersecurity?

It is not surprising that the most expensive cyber-attacks are the results of using weak, reused or frequently forgotten passwords. This is evident from a report released by the Fast Identity Online Alliance (FIDO Alliance), an organisation promoting open and free authentication standards. It reveals that silly passwords used to secure online identities are the cause of weak links – by almost 80%. 

Launched in 2013 by Paypal, Lenovo and Nok Nok Labs, FIDO Alliance focused the research on passwords as a high number of people use them incorrectly. The organisation also found that users give up on 1 in 3 eCommerce transactions just because they are unable to log in.

Instances of heavy breaches are increasing in smart cities across the world and so is the use of biometric technology. The ubiquitous use of facial recognition, voice recognition, fingerprint scans and physical security keys seem promising. Not just in reinforcing the security ecosystem for each individual but also in making the job faster. 

The Use Of Passwords Will Soon Be Gone 

On August 12, 2019, Alphabet announced that logging into applications and websites is soon going to be as easy as unlocking your smartphone with the fingerprint sensor. Passwords that are acting as culprits are soon going to disappear. 

A similar plan is in movement by a group of 260 organisations which include Mastercard, Visa, Amazon, Alibaba, Bank of America and Samsung among others. The aim is to equip smartphones with high-end sensors that will end the culture of passwords forever. 

Google engineers are also working on introducing second-generation FIDO protocols in every Android smartphone with OS version 7.0 or later. The software under development will soon be launched in devices in a matter of days. 

The benefit of the new software will be that users will simply need to register their login credentials with applications or websites only once. Then, the login process will be managed by the user’s biometric information. 

This will be a revolutionary step in the field of cybersecurity. As per Forbes, out of 2.8 billion Android users worldwide, 1.7 billion users will get the FIDO2 update. Moreover, the leading internet browsers including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox and Apple Safari are already supporting FIDO2. 

The introduction of biometrics technology will enable faster and more secure login process, making life easier for users. That being said, this will come as a greater benefit for government, financial institutions, telecom, insurance and other enterprises. 

Japan To Introduce Facial Recognition-based ATMsthe 

Facial Recognition-based ATMs In Japan

Although a few smart cities are concerned about the use of facial recognition, Japan is set to introduce the technology at ATMs. 

Currently, face-authentication technology is under the testing phase and is about to launch in a month. Not all ATMs, but Seven Bank in collaboration with NEC Corporation is replacing its existing ATMs with the new ones. These will be equipped with biometric authentication technologies and a QR card reader. The advancement in biometric technology will be supported by artificial intelligence and IoT.

According to NEC, the new feature will also use AI and IoT to predict cash demand more accurately. Plus, it will detect prior warning of component failures making ATM operations more streamlined. The ATMs will use NEC’s NeoFace, a core technology of Bio-IDiom which is part of its portfolio of biometric identification solutions. 

Customers will receive a QR code which is will be issued based on personal information entered on a smartphone or PC – beforehand. The QR code, identification documents and face images will be captured by a camera mounted on ATMs. The camera will play the role of confirming the identities.

As per reports, the replacement of ATMs in Tokyo is planned to be accomplished by summer 2020. Whereas, for the entire nation, the task will be completed by the end of 2024. 

Thailand – A Safe Environment For Citizens & Tourists

Apart from data gathering technologies that are aiding in preventing crime and terrorism, biometric technology is also of crucial use. Phuket, the island city of Thailand is implementing biometric technology with the safety of tourists and citizens in mind. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it is adding the technology to complement its attractions. 

The city is about to introduce biometric facial recognition under the recent initiative ‘Safe City Project’. The new system will ensure the highest level of security for citizens and tourists. The city is planning to implement this with the city police capturing a photo of the passengers entering the city through mobile phones at checkpoints. These photos will be then sent to the technology provider’s matching system which will show if any legal action has been recorded against the person. In case the person’s record is present, an instant alert will be sent to the police. This will show the potential of the smartphone-driven biometric border control system. 

Furthermore, the project will be enhanced with the inclusion of a smart card system, automatic license plate recognition, a high-speed network link and a command centre. 

The Reinforcement In The US Defense Department  

The employees of the US Department of Defense (DoD) gain entry to secure networks or building using a Common Access Card. This card is incorporated with an embedded chip that contains the user’s personal information and access level. Data inside the chip informs the security system whether or not it is safe to provide access. 

After the employees enter their workspace, they log into the DoD system just as other federal agencies – with a password on the designated computer. However, the concern with this particular way of access is rising as more people have started working remotely. A better method to verify the identity of an employee before they gain access to a classified network is critical. 

And therefore, DoD is testing new technology comprising multifactor authentication (CMFA). It will be able to reinforce the traditional security methods with multiple biometric factors including face/voice recognition and fingerprint scan. Eventually, this will eliminate the need to authenticate workers using passcodes. 

Another crucial security step under the system includes reading an individual’s gait with a mobile device. Detecting the typical work location of an individual, recognising his typing rhythm and anticipating the apps he will open are additional features. 

CMFA will add a layer of protection to the existing security system and prevent hacking or unauthorised entry. This is important for top-level officials who need to gain access to confidential documents while travelling or working remotely. 

The Importance Of Multifactor Authentication (CMFA) 

As explained by Stephen Wallace, systems innovation scientist for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), users now unlock their smartphones using fingerprint or face recognition. But what if you unlock it and hand it to someone and leave (maybe for a while)? Or what if you leave it open on a park bench? Someone can pick it up and reset the phone as theirs. 

Multifactor Authentication shows the potential to prevent this. DISA is testing the technology by automatically locking it if the phone is held by somebody else. The mobile phone remains locked until the multifactor authentication criteria are fulfilled. And if lost or stolen, a mobile device manager could wipe the data remotely. 

Going further, DISA identified the recognition of walking gait to be specifically important integration. Because a tactical environment can present obstacles for fingerprint or facial recognition but not for walking gait. 

Currently, DISA has 50 such devices distributed among the mission partners. The department is not aiming to introduce the technology just for the sake of classified environment. In fact, they want it to become commercially viable – even on mobile devices and PCs.

Considering the development, the Multifactor authentication system holds a promising change to reinforcing the cybersecurity ecosystem in smart cities.