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Rise of biometrics in business

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The need for ever-improving customer service, higher levels of speed and efficiency, as well as the limitless financial and reputational risks that go along with online financial services, banks, insurers and other financial service providers are embracing biometrics like never before.

Biometrics may at the outset seem like a space-age, technology driven discipline, but using unique physical characteristics as identifying features is nothing new. Artefacts discovered in ancient Babylon and China have been uncovered bearing handprints and fingerprints that scholars believe were used for everything from business to criminal prosecution. Technology, and a greater understanding of what makes humans unique on a biological and behavioural level, have accelerated and expanded the biometric field to practically limitless applications in the modern business landscape.

From the fingerprint scanners that we use to get into the office every day, to the nifty facial recognition features being used to unlock smartphones, biometrics has been sneaking stealthily into our lives for years. But in an age where so much of our daily lives is carried out remotely and online, threats of cybercrime and fraud are driving a new wave of biometric controls that are being layered over our personal and professional online functions, with surprising urgency and a vast array of innovative techniques.

It’s safe to say that digital banking has surpassed real-world banking in much of the developed world. Thanks to the need for ever-improving customer service, ever higher levels of speed and efficiency, as well as the limitless financial and reputational risks that go along with online financial services, banks, insurers and other financial service providers are embracing biometrics like never before to gain the competitive edge over their peers.

“In the financial services sector in particular, we are bound to see more and more biometrics being made use of in unobtrusive and creative ways over the next few years,” said Davina Myburgh, Director of Core Credit for TransUnion Africa. “We live in a mobile age, and people are understandably less and less eager to go into their bank branch unnecessarily. And since customer service and digital security are two of the biggest opportunities for both consumer and commercial banks to differentiate themselves from the competition, the race is on to incorporate biometrics in meaningful and original ways.”

From established, old-world techniques such as fingerprint recognition, to more advanced applications like voice recognition and iris scanning, the reliability of these technologies is growing in leaps and bounds – but it’s not quite foolproof. Not yet, anyway. Myburgh explained:

“A burn or scar could make fingerprint identification difficult, while a cold could affect our ability to use voice identification. Even the unique patterns of our irises have been known to change over time. The real power of biometrics is not in its ability to completely replace the identifiers we rely on today, but to add an extra layer of security and convenience to transactions without affecting speed, efficiency, or the customer experience.”

Balancing this trade-off between security and user-experience will divide the winners from the losers in the coming years, and biometric measures are helping organisations around the world to add new levels of excellence to both. As we continue to see ever-more creative developments in this field, it’s becoming clear that biometric technologies are no longer a gimmick, but are part and parcel of the merge we are seeing between the real world and the digital, contributing to a more seamless transition for both organisations and individual consumers.

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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