[Dave Birch] Yet another survey, this time from Unisys, seems to indicate (yet again) that U.S. and U.K. consumers would like to see biometrics introduced.  Across the board, a large majority of consumers in the United States (63 percent) and United Kingdom (87 percent) believe that the rise in identity fraud and the insufficient protection of personal information will become a significant security threat in the future, and feel that financial institutions and government are not doing enough to stop it.  As a result, an even greater percent of U.S. consumers (69 percent) and U.K. consumers (92 percent) would prefer that banks, credit card companies, healthcare providers and government organizations adopt biometric technologies, as compared to other protection measures such as smart card readers, security tokens or passwords/PINs, to safely and quickly verify personal identities.

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In the U.S., according to a recent poll by Truste, 82 percent of Americans "support the use of biometric identification on passports," (presumably they mean something beyond having a picture in the passport), 75 percent support adding biometrics to driver’s licenses, and 73 percent support adding it to social-security cards.  Why they want biometrics isn’t clear, because 68 percent of those surveyed believe that biometrics added to identity documents will make it harder for thieves to engage in identity theft, but 67 percent think that "criminals will find a way around the technology."

The problem isn’t always criminals, though, as our recent discussion about South Warwickshire NHS Trust demonstrated.  In this case study, staff were sharing a supervisor’s smart card and PIN to log in to computer system.  Perhaps biometrics could fix this problem too.  The first implementation of a biometric palm vein authentication system to access electronic medical records has been implemented at the Hospital for Charged Particle Therapy at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) in Japan.  The innovative system enables users to access electronic medical records and is being used to prevent unauthorised access to the hospital’s data.  I can’t help noting that the Japanese cultural aversion to touching buttons that lots of other people have been touching actually leads to a better solution for hospitals anyway.  In our MRSA-riddled wards, "no touch" palm-vein authentication ought to be a boon to hygiene as well as security.

But back in consumer space, we have generally advised our clients that in the medium term, the most transformational biometric will probably be voice, particularly because of the synergy with mobile phones.  The first steps on this journey are already apparent.  Look at the alliance between Experian and VoiceVerified whereby Experian authentication technologies – combining public data sources, predictive analytics and challenge questions – will be used to verify customer IDs ahead of enrollment for VoiceVerified’s phone-based biometric. The voiceprint is then used to validate the customer’s identity in future remote interactions.  You can see how this will be attractive to banks and insurance companies: no more "what’s your account number and address" ten times before you get through to an agent.  Voice is also moving into the health arena.  Health insurer Australian Health Management has deployed a biometric voice recognition system  which means that customers avoid any authentication-related questions prior to an account query or claim.  AHM has been using the voice recognition system for three months and the company claims that both customers and call centre agents are happier because they no longer need to go through the laborious authentication process.  Customers who have registered to use the system simply say their ID number to the voice recognition system, which then automatically puts the caller through to an agent.  If my bank did this, I’d use it.

My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public.
[posted with ecto]

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