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:
- 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
- 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.