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The Right Touch: Biometrics and Security with Mobile Applications

Security is a tricky business, especially as we store more personal information in the cloud, and access it with mobile devices. Passwords only take us so far. Good ones are hard to devise, even harder to remember, and all too easy for hacking software to crack. The few recent high-profile data breaches have given us all a reminder of just how fragile password protection is.

That’s why biometricsfingerprint, palm and iris scanning, and voice recognition—are looking like the next big thing in keeping our private information private.

Apple kicked off the trend by adding fingerprint-scanning security to the iPhone 5S. ThisWashington Post article covers many more consumer technologies using biometrics at this year’s CES.

Apple seems determined to keep the lead in this race, as the company has taken out some patents on even more ways to use biometrics for security.They look like ways to improve how the current fingerprint scanning works, as well as ways to extend the technology to click-wheels, keyboards, and other input channels, virtual versions of those things, virtual buttons and knobs in the interface, and even the touchscreen itself. Read the article linked above or this one from to learn about all the various patents Apple has submitted to see just how many ways the company is imagining it may put the technology to use in the not-too-distant future.

And it’s not just device makers looking to biometrics. ANZ bank (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) is conducting trials to see if its apps could use voice recognition to validate banking transactions. Right now, the bank’s customers use two-factor authentication using SMS (which Australian telcos have declared unsafe for mobile banking).

Biometrics may ultimately provide more effective security. But this approach also poses a larger question about who collects, stores and protects all the data: our fingerprints, our iris scans, our voices. And how do we protect that?

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