LastPass goes biometric: A conversation with CEO/Co-Founder Joe Siegrist

May 2, 2014 - 

LastPass is the latest app to launch for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and make use of its embedded fingerprint sensor.

The app launched with support for S5 fingerprint biometrics earlier this week and BiometricUpdate.com had a chance to chat with the company’s CEO and CO-founder Joe Siegrist to chat about working with the S5’s fingerprint API, two-factor authentication and LastPass’s early roots as a company.

“We launched with the idea that somebody needed to be pragmatic and practical about making passwords work as they exist today and then being in the right place to help bring around their end,” Siegrist said. “It’s not a coincidence that we’re named LastPass.”

LastPass is a password manager app that’s been around since 2008 and aims to help users deal with multiple passwords and to simplify authentication around the net. Siegrist formed the company with a group of other technologists he was working with at a previous startup – Estara – which focused on voice over IP and click-to-call solutions.

“As part of [our work at Estara] we did a lot of encryption work […] and it’s one of the things that opened up our eyes,” Siegrist said, explaining how he and his team launched LastPass.

Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, early this week, LastPass announced that users of the Samsung Galaxy S5 could gain access to the company’s Android app using the embedded fingerprint sensor.

“It’s been a fairly long road to start seeing [biometrics used] in more practical devices, so we’re really excited about that,” Siegrist said. “We were early believers. We did early deals with AuthenTec and Validity and have been doing fingerprint on desktop for about 5 years.”

According to Siegrist, as soon as an API became available for the S5, the company started work on development and says that LastPass will jump at any opportunity to develop its app for another device with an embedded fingerprint sensor.

“We’ll guarantee that [any phone with a fingerprint sensor] that comes out, we’re going to support,” Siegrist said.

Siegrist calls himself a technical CEO and says he assists marketing and sales at LastPass, but also has a focus on the product and the technology behind it, saying he looks to code as often as he can.

LastPass joins a growing list of third-party apps that have been granted access to the fingerprint sensor in Samsung’s Galaxy S5. This is an interesting trend because Samsung’s mentality regarding the treatment of its fingerprint sensor is in stark contrast to Apple’s treatment of the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5S, which can currently only be used to unlock the device and to authorize iTunes purchases.

“Apple has a big lead,” Siegrist said, “but I think they’re going to keep seeing erosion as other vendors bring out new solutions.”

According to a recent market research report, it is expected that 525 million smartphones with fingerprint sensors will ship in 2017 – that’s up from 45.7 million in 2013.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for BiometricUpdate.com. His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for CBCNews.ca, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj