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Biometrics to Secure the Internet of Things

Sarah Le, @IriTechInc
10.08.15
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The "Internet of things" (IoT) is a hot topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. Basically, IoT is a concept of connecting any device to the internet (and/or to each other). This includes almost everything from mobile phone, washing machines, baby monitors, cars or even a jet engine of an airplane. Imagine you're heading home on your car after work and your smart gate receives notification to open when you're meters from home. We can see the new rule for the future is going to be, "anything that can be connected, will be connected."


IoT certainly opens the door to virtually endless opportunities but also to many challenges. Security vulnerabilities are big issues that are usually brought up in conversations. With billions of devices being connected together, what can we do to make sure that our information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into one of your devices and thereby get access to our entire network?

It's obvious that traditional approaches of user authentication are now inadequate and ineffective in the IoT era. Taking an example, the use of two-factor authentication (2FA), which typically combines a password with a second layer of protection, has gained popularity. However, they are cumbersome, time consuming, easy to forge and potentially stolen or lost. Recently, Gemalto has revealed that the largest breach in the first half of 2015 was an identity theft that exposed 78.8 million records, representing 32% of the total data records stolen. As the malware and other attacks become more sophisticated, a new method is highly needed in granting physical access securely and conveniently.

A new player is biometrics which is gaining its reputation in the security game. And thanks to technology giant Apple, biometrics has entered massive market. Frankly speaking, biometrics is who we are and it cannot be stolen or lost. Besides, people don't have to carry it all around or remember it, what can be more convenient? Biometrics in IoT will not only unlock bank apps, email accounts but also cars, homes and many other things. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2016, IoT will drive device and user relationship requirements in 20% of new identity and access management (IAM), with new biometrics to emerge as a key role. Earl Perkins, research vice president at Gartner, said: "IAM, as defined today, will bifurcate, with identity management assuming a broader entity relationship management role and access management assuming a broader relationship execution role that replaces or supplements authentication policy and authorization enforcement. Furthermore, the biometric research group said: "We conservatively estimate that biometric sensors, which includes work time management and premise security entry consoles, will total at least 500 million "Internet of Things" connections by 2018."

With the evolution of the IoT and the utilizing of biometrics, there will be endless applications giving both convenience and security in different industries such as: smart home, automotive industry, finance, healthcare, etc. which will only be limited by human's imagination.

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