October 19, 2014 by

Better Smartphone Security Through Biometrics

The concept of using biometrics, such as fingerprints, for heightened security is not a new one. Laptops with integrated fingerprint scanners have been around for a decade. What’s changing now, is that biometric sensors are starting to be integrated into our smartphones and tablets. Not just that, unlike when fingerprint scanners appeared on laptops, now we see apps that people use every day utilizing the technology, including PayPal and other payment-related apps.

Both Apple and Samsung offer a fingerprint scanner on their high-end devices. While the ability to pay for purchases with a swipe of a finger, instead of re-entering your password each time, sounds appealing due to the convenience of it, there’s pros and cons to everything. Here are some of them:

PROS:

  • Convenience and simplicity
  • If used as part of a 2-factor authentication- heightened security.
  • More privacy- others can no longer see your password as you type it
  • Unique fingerprint makes it difficult for anyone else to gain access to your device

CONS:

  • Not perfected, still major functional flaws (an example)
  • Can be spoofed by taking a photograph of a print from the display (video below)
  • If compromised, cannot be changed

The biometric technology on smartphones is still in its infancy, and it’s not yet clear whether in its current state it will make users’ phones more secure or otherwise. My guess is that for majority of people, it will make their devices more secure, however, the jury’s still out on that.

 

About the author

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LIFARS is the global leader in Digital Forensics and Cyber Resiliency Services. Our experience spans two decades working on high profile events, often in concert with Law Enforcement Agencies around the world. Our proprietary methodology derives directly and indirectly from our experience working with and for U.S. Intelligence Agencies, Interpol, Europol, and NATO. We are solely dedicated to Cyber Resiliency and thus pay close attention to all aspects of our clients’ engagements experience while providing a strategic and integrated array of services to minimum risk and disruption while protecting your brand.

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