10 biometric technologies that will kill passwords – from fingerprints and iris scans to selfies

John E Dunn
John E Dunn

John E Dunn

John is one of the cofounders of Techworld, having previously edited several technology titles including Network World, Network Week and LAN Magazine.

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Biometrics – identifying people through aspects their unique physical chracteristics or behaviour – has found steady business for the last three decades. The technology is now growing rapidly, but has it been too successful? A myriad of different, often proprietary designs now vies for business which has led to high prices and confusion about the merits of each.

Although the technology is still seen as a replacement for passwords, today’s implementations use biometrics most often as a secondary form of authentication that works in conjunction with traditional security. The day when biometrics systems completely replace PINs and passwords is some way off but a mix of biometrics designs could eventually go some of the way to achieving this.

Despite the embrace of science-fiction, the weakness of biometrics remains a pretty fundamental one: if cybercriminals steal biometric data unique to an individual this can’t be reset in the way a password can. It is compromised forever and that person’s entire identity is up for grabs. This is another reason why biometrics is seen as a secondary for of ID, used in conjunction with something else, rather than a primary form of authentication.

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