How biometrics and passwords intersect in the future of security
This is a guest post by Sandor Palfy, Chief Technology Officer of Identity and Access Management at LogMeIn.
Biometrics are becoming a convenient authentication method that will occupy an important place in the future of security. Most consumers have experience with biometric-friendly devices, and more businesses are looking toward biometrics as solutions for adding security around access controls, or to increase compliance with internal or industry standards.
The trust in biometrics as a new entrant in security comes at an ideal time in which cyber threats are increasingly sophisticated and highly targeted. A layered approach to security is recommended, so it’s encouraging that biometrics adds to stronger multi-factor authentication.
Still, an important element not to be overlooked is the intersection of passwords and biometrics as the need to secure data becomes more critical. While biometrics is becoming a convenient authentication method, passwords and passcodes aren’t going away anytime soon. Take the iPhone for example. You can unlock your iPhone 50x a day with your face or thumbprint, but it still requires a passcode at set-up and will ask for that code every time the phone is rebooted. In order to secure data, you must encrypt that data, which requires an encryption key. That key can only be derived from passwords or passcodes and that is why even though your latest iPhone has the most sophisticated face mapping sensors, it still requires you to set up a passcode to be able to encrypt data on its internal storage.
While biometrics functions well today as a gatekeeper, granting or denying access to data, you need passwords to encrypt the data. That’s where password management solutions are necessary for both consumer and enterprise technology for information assurance. Biometrics and passwords – for now – are complementary solutions that help enable stronger overall security.
While everyone is talking about how passwords are going away, the fact of the matter is the average person has nearly 200 passwords, and that number is growing every year. It’s likely that biometrics and passwords will continue to co-evolve as one of the most important lines of defense in personal and enterprise security.
About the author
Sandor Palfy is Chief Technology Officer of Identity and Access Management at LogMeIn.
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