PayPal Suggests Biometric Identification Will One Day ‘Kill All Passwords’

April 22, 2015 @ 9:10 AM
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2 min read

A login mechanism you could eat, digital tattoos and vein recognition could be among the biometric identification mechanisms that help protect corporate data in the future, according to Jonathan LeBlanc, PayPal’s global head of developer advocacy.

In a presentation that was made publicly available on SlideShare, LeBlanc outlines a series of biometric identification possibilities that could, as he puts it, “kill all passwords.” He goes well beyond mere fingerprint scanning or facial recognition tools to explore sensors embedded under the skin or ingestible authentication devices that could later be destroyed by stomach acid.

As farfetched as some of these ideas may seem, LeBlanc explained in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that almost anything would be better than the type of easily detected passwords used to secure computer systems today. On the other hand, he said the presentation was intended to merely spark discussion, not to suggest PayPal was coming out with biometric identification tools anytime soon.

As with other security standards, it may be that the industry will develop the next generation of biometric identification in a collaborative fashion. Wired UK pointed out that PayPal and others are already members of the Fast Identity Online Alliance, which is working on a range of specifications to securely authenticate users. There have also been partnerships between security vendors such as Kaspersky Lab and hacking collectives such as BioNyfiken to work on joint solutions.

The big question is whether the average individual would be comfortable with credentials that are stored inside their bodies, rather than using identifiers that are simply digitally read by a piece of hardware. A story on TechWorld pointed to Halifax Bank, which is reportedly tying authentication into heart-monitoring systems as a way for some customers to gain access to their accounts. Still, although smartwatches and smart eyewear are poised to hit the mainstream in 2015, this would take wearables to a whole new level.

These various forms of biometric identification are still up for debate, but even the most die-hard cybercriminals would probably agree they will work more effectively than “123456,” which The Telegraph noted was the most popular password of the past year.

Image Source: iStock

Shane Schick
Writer & Editor
Shane Schick is a contributor for SecurityIntelligence.