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With biometrics, security really is at your fingertips


20 October 2016

Matthew Key

Blogs by author: Matthew Key, Head of Customer Innovation, Global Banking and Financial Markets, BT.


Biometrics is a developing area of technology that improves identity-based security. And in this blog I’ll look at some of the exciting innovations hitting the market.

Using biometrics to verify identity makes our lives easier (less PINs to remember), and the systems we use more secure. The vast potential in this areas means that there are many organisations involved in developing this technology, from well-constructed start-ups to more established players.

Biometrics in action.

There are plenty of biometric solutions already on the market, and one of the most visible is the fingerprint reader on Apple’s iPhone — used to authenticate transactions.

Similarly, Samsung phones feature a fingerprint reader — while the new Galaxy Note 7 also has an iris scanner.

Along with eye and fingerprint scanning, voice is a widely used identity check. It’s something regularly employed by government departments, and Barclays Bank are one of the main examples of this software being used on a wide-scale.

The power of biometrics: identification combinations.

While biometrics is a fairly watertight and convenient way to organise security, it does have limitations. Fingerprints, for example, aren’t as infallible as they used to be. That’s why its greatest potential lies in a blended approach to identification.

For example, with simple transactions that don’t involve large sums of money, a fingerprint identification check is probably sufficient. But for larger amounts, a combination of factors should be used instead.

A complex identity.

An area that can contribute to these combinations is the field of behavioural biometrics. This looks at whether a person’s behaviour follows their predicted patterns, for example — is the way a person’s typing consistent with how they normally do so?

This type of cognitive analysis can cover a huge array of factors, from eye-hand coordination, to usage preferences, device interaction patterns and more. They can even cover physiological factors like left/right handedness, press size, hand tremor, arm size and muscle usage.

Luckily, we’re seeing many different biometric solutions in development. And these range from smartphone facial ID to heartbeat monitoring — and even devices that analyse the way a person walks. You can see some of the most exciting innovations in the various showcases at Adastral Park, BT’s Global Research and Development Headquarters, and I encourage you to visit their website to see the latest.

The future of biometrics.

The future of biometrics is going to use these exciting new developments, combining traditional and innovative identification techniques to ensure ever-greater security.

This is going to protect people’s accounts, systems and devices, and keep important data and networks safer. By using these, businesses and organisations will also increase investor and customer confidence — something that’s important across all industries.

Read more about innovation from BT and our solutions for financial services.