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Your face, your password

Scientists at IBM believe that passwords may be rendered obsolete sooner rather than later as they are developing new technology that will recognise our physical appearance to grant us access to our accounts. DAVID NAHAMOO of IBM elaborates.

We all know how frustrating forgetting an important password can be. Today, our brains are required to retain a great deal of sensitive and complex information in order to access our personal computers, online banking services and email accounts. It’s easy to get these intricate collections of numbers and figures confused from time to time.

Fortunately, scientists at IBM believe that passwords may be rendered obsolete sooner than we think.

This is based on new technology which will allow IBM to create devices that recognise our biological identities and biometric data. In simpler terms, this knowledge will give machines the ability to recognise who you are and grant you access to your smartphone, office block and bank account based on the sound of your voice or the colour of your eyes.

Over the next five years, your unique biological identity and biometric data facial definitions, iris scans, voice files, even your DNA will become the key to safeguarding your personal identity and information and replace the current user ID and password system.

Biometric data will allow you to walk up to an ATM and access your bank account by simply speaking your name and looking into the camera. Yes, we’ve all seen the thriller sci-fi movies where a person is forced by the villain to scan their eye or finger to unlock a door. But that’s fiction. In reality, ATM cameras using facial and iris recognition may be able to detect stress, pupil dilation, and changes in heart rate and breathing patterns to establish a confidence level that the user is not in danger.

Although data protection is a concern for many users embracing new technologies, Nahamoo stresses that in many ways biometric data is more secure than current password based entry methods.

Referred to as multifactor biometrics, these systems will be able to aggregate a number of factors such as how you look, speak or walk, an ID badge or a secure piece of information to ensure that only a single unique biometric profile is given access.

Naturally, users will be able to opt in or out with regards to how much information they choose to provide.

We have been moving from devices like desktops and laptops to smart devices such as mobile phones and tablets all property that is easily lost, stolen or misplaced. These devices are not yet outfitted with operating systems and security elements that are as strong as immobile devices of the past. Biometric security can strengthen those weaknesses.

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