Posts Tagged ‘biometric passwords’

Recently, Qualcomm Inc., a leading supplier of mobile-device chips announced its Spectra imaging system, which (according to the Wall Street Journal, 8-21-17) “can extract depth information from objects including faces.”  In other words, your password will soon – finally! – be replaced by an image of your face.  It’s about time, eh?

The company plans to use the technology soon in its next line of mobile processors, and around the same time, Apple may soon, it is rumored, offer a similar feature on the iPhone.  Might facial recognition finally be the password replacement technology we’ve longed for?

The technology differs a bit from that used in security cameras around the world.  Your phone or laptop camera, after all, don’t need to spot you in a crowd, it just needs to distinguish one face – yours – and it can do it very well, since you’re likely to be only a foot or two away.  Its structured light technology is said to splay tiny infrared dots across an image of your face (or other target) and, by reading distortions, capture incredibly detailed and accurate information.  And because of its use of infrared technology, it can work in the dark.

Apple has not confirmed any of this yet, according to the Journal, but it does appear to have the necessary patents, technology and, perhaps, inclination – say at the unveiling of the 10th anniversary iPhone.

Best of all, Qualcomm has indicated that its Spectra chip with facial-depth recognition capabilities will be available for future versions of Android phones.  While previous versions of the Samsung phone could be ‘fooled’ by holding up an image of another person’s face, the Spectra chip boasts of having the added capability of “live-ness detection,” thus making it less likely to be fooled, even with a 3-D printed mask.

You’ll teach your phone the same way you do with thumbprint recognition today, and images will be securely stored on the device itself, not in the cloud.

Eventually, supply chains being what they are, the technology will trickle down into less expensive devices, with the potential to actually become “mundane” one day according to the CEO of biometrics company Tascent.  That’s a good thing, as the improved simplicity and security that come from being able merely to look at our devices is likely to curb our otherwise bad password habits through which we all too often put our finances and personal information security at risk.





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ramesh kesanupalliThe April 1-7 edition of Bloomberg Businessweek featured an article (p. 39) on a clever, innovative new approach to the thorny topic of passwords that we think is worth sharing.

As the article notes, a software engineer by the name of Ramesh Kesanupalli has been working on a better password.  Large banks, e-commerce companies, social networks and others with millions of online customers must maintain an array of expensive servers to store passwords and user names.  All that sensitive information left in a central repository makes for a pretty tempting target for hackers.

Kesanupalli asked: Why not get rid of user names and passwords and store login data on customers’ PCs, smartphones and tablets?  His firm, Nok Nok Labs has designed software that lets users record their own biometric data, such as their voice, facial features or fingerprints, on their personal computers and gadgets.  That’s a lot more secure than a user name and alpha/numeric password.

When a user provides a valid match, they can connect securely to the desired website.  But, as Kesanupalli notes, for a hacker looking to compromise the system, “they would need to steal your device, and your finger and your eye.  That’s not a scalable attack,” he notes somewhat wryly.

He’s onto something.  Kesanupalli already has two other startups under his belt, both of which he sold to much larger companies.  He was previously CTO of a security software consortium interested in replacing conventional passwords.  “I knew the password had to go,” he notes.  He started down this path in 2009, and has raised $15 million so far from investors, and his patented software will be tested in three million devices this year, thanks to partners like Lenovo, PayPal and others.

At PayPal, its CTO notes that over one-third of his company’s help-desk calls involve password resets.  And as Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group has noted, “This has some exciting potential.  The world is looking for something like this.”


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