Ditch the Passwords: Biometrics Are the Way Forward

Biometric Cloud Security

Last week my British Airways frequent flyer account was hacked. My account was locked, and I was told to change my password, and like many of you, I maintain multiple passwords but I do not create unique ones every time so I need to change a few different website credentials.

What used to take an hour or so to change my personal passwords now takes multiple hours due to mobile devices. This is because passwords are saved in many cases at the app level. I don’t think I am that strange having a Windows® laptop, an iPad® and an Android® phone. The PC web browser passwords are not too bad until you find they are cached so it does not remember the changes; it’s the mobile devices where you need to change the multiple passwords at the app level, even the same app on multiple devices.

This got me thinking to back in the late 90’s when I tested biometric thumbprint readers on HMI SCADA software. It worked (though not reliably enough to be adopted at the time). Today, the latest gen smart phones have cameras and thumbprint readers built in; for example, my daughter’s laptop can use facial recognition to log in. Biometric technology is becoming mainstream, yet consumer apps that are built to utilize this capability are the hold up.

Passwords and pins are inherently an issue as we have seen multiple times in the past year with the hacking of everything from individual cloud storage to major film producers to your local retail stores. Once your credentials are discovered, they can be sold and used by anyone, the very thing you cannot do with biometrics easily.

With the adoption of the Industrial Internet in the cloud, for all the benefits it has around scalability, cost and deployment ease, biometrics are one of the key elements to overcoming our industries’ worries around secure access. I find it quite ironic that that cloud is driving the need for tighter security, and it’s cloud capability that actually delivers the data storage and access from anywhere that this type of security needs.

In my opinion, the sooner we ditch the passwords and embrace biometric-based security systems, the better off we will be. And why not use the same technology to obsolete all physical keys for your car and house in the coming years? 

What are your thoughts on this topic? 

Barry Lynch

Barry, Global Marketing Director – Automation Hardware at GE's Automation & Controls business, passionately believes that connected machines, mobile data analytics and workforce enablement don’t have to be hurdles in business today. He leads the strategic direction of the company’s automation and information systems programs to help customers apply the power of the Industrial Internet to their businesses. By connecting machines, data, insights and people, our technology solutions deliver critical insight for greater operational efficiency, effectiveness and optimization. Learn more about how Barry works at GE on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @BarryLynchGE.

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