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For most of us, our digital lives are secured by passwords. According to research conducted by Purdue University’s International Center for Biometrics Research, the inherent weakness of passwords is becoming blatantly apparent. Researchers here envision an IT world where passwords are no longer the norm.

Another Day Another Hack

In March of this year, Evernote was forced to reset  50 million passwords after a security breach. Hackers had successfully gained access to Evernote user information, usernames, email addresses, and encrypted passwords. In a statement regarding the breach, Founder, Dave Engberg, assured users that despite robust password encryption measures the company had plans to beef up security to ensure personal data remains secure, requiring all users to reset their account passwords. The breach was just one in a series of high-level security failures experienced by such names as Dropbox, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, all of which used high-level password encryption.

Biometrics on an Upward Trend

While it is doubtful that passwords will ever entirely go away, biometric technologies are moving from the periphery to the center of the security debate. Digital Persona’s Vance Bjorn envisions a day in the not so distant future when the password will “no longer be viewed as sufficient for most services, consumers or employee access.” In a recent article from Entrepreneur.com, Bjorn discusses the future of biometrics and how increased use is a sure thing. Ten years ago biometric technology was used primarily by government and law enforcement. Bjorn sees it rapidly making its way into businesses and consumer applications. Identity confirmation is becoming more and more important now that mobile devices store sensitive business and personal data and individuals carry around digital wallets.

Convenience and Security

Hewlett-Packard technologist, Vali Ali, argues biometrics is about more than security, they are about “convenient security.” Remembering lengthy or weak passwords is no longer a necessity; after all, you always have your finger or your iris with you. Ali suggests, “the types of technologies that are going to win are those that people want to use, rather than have to use.” Fingerprint sensor technology is growing in popularity, according to Ali, because swiping your finger is a simple, fast and safe way to identify yourself.

What This Means for Your Business

The adoption of facial recognition technology at Japan’s Universal Studios, a theme park that receives more than 8 million guests annually, improved quality of experience for guests, and cut costs for the company. The new access control system replaced a manual process of taking guest photos, printing membership cards, and then checking each guest and card every time they attended the park.  The previous system was inefficient, very labor-intensive and time-consuming, causing long wait times for cardholders. The new system involves studio passes with imprinted Quick Response (QR) codes.  At the entrance, visitors register their facial photos into the park’s database.  During subsequent visits, guests simply tap a reader with their annual passes and turn their faces toward the recognition monitor at the front gate -the entire process taking about one second.  Not only are guest wait times at the park entrance dramatically reduced, but Universal Studios Japan has also cut their operating costs by 30% since the new technology installation. While biometric technology may not be the best solution for every company, it is a burgeoning technology with obvious benefits not only for improved security, but for convenience, and overall efficiency – yet another innovation for tech-savvy individuals and businesses to consider.

 

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