Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Monday, January 26, 2015

How Biometric Authentication Apps Enhance Security

The mobile phone has long since graduated from being a device that purely enables person-to-person voice communication. The role of the smartphone is far more expansive, as it has become embedded into lifestyles -- used to surf the web, take photos, connect to social networks, get directions, etc.

The proliferation and adoption of the smartphone in particular has been a game changer -- totally redefining what a personal telephone device is capable of doing for the owner -- as well as raising expectations for the user interface (UI).

Handset manufacturers have had to innovate in new modes of device control that allow users to operate it without having to touch, or indeed, look at it. Moreover, as these devices enable access to a wealth of personal information about the user, new forms of security are required.

Juniper Research has found that that more than 770 million biometric authentication applications will be downloaded per year by 2019 -- that's up from just 6 million this year and dramatically reducing dependence on alphanumeric passwords in the mobile phone market.

Human Interface technology market is forecast to enjoy dynamic growth in the coming 5 years. The overall market is also expected to break the billion-dollar barrier in 2019, with estimated revenues of more than $1.2 billion in that year.


Applications for Biometric Technologies

The Juniper market study found that a number of high-profile deployments of biometric authentication techniques would drive wider adoption. It highlighted the combination of Apple's Touch ID authentication allied to tokenization in NFC payments as a key case in this regard.

It argued that fingerprint authentication would account for the overwhelming majority of such apps in the medium term, driven by increasing deployment of fingerprint scanners within mid-range smartphones.

However, the study found that other forms of biometric identification that do not require embedded hardware are also emerging, such as the Descartes Biometrics ERGO ear print biometric authentication app and the Nuance voice authentication service.

Biometrics Can Reduce Rejection Rates

A key benefit of biometrics identified by the study findings was its capability to enhance accessibility by reducing rejection rates of authentication systems. Juniper argued that in addition to the enhanced security, biometric applications can improve the user experience by making it easy for the device owner to make transactions.

Juniper also claims that as consumers seek to reduce the likelihood of their social media profiles being hacked, service providers such as Facebook may turn to facial scanning to add value through increased authentication security.

That said, there's a need to reassure people of the security benefits of biometric technologies over traditional alphanumeric authentication. Meaning, significant public education would likely be necessary, in order for the full potential of biometric technology advantages to be realized.