Those days of having to remember dozens of passwords and PIN numbers may become a thing of the past over the next five years. Soon, all you'll need is a fingerprint or just your smile thanks to an expected surge in biometric authentication apps.
According to Juniper Research, there will be nearly 770 million biometric authentication apps downloaded per year by 2019, which is more than a 100-fold increase from the 6 million per year currently. Juniper credits the expected surge in these downloads to the current proliferation of Touch ID hardware in Apple and Samsung smartphones, as well as the linking of the hardware to tokenization of NFC payments in mobile commerce. The gradual switch to fingerprint authentication has given customers and businesses greater confidence in the security of mobile commerce, and will be the medium-term expectation for biometric apps until hardware-less identification comes into play. Fingerprint technology will also have a role in reducing rejection rates of authentication systems, which will make mobile payments a lot easier to use in addition to security.
Still, like any new security technology, there are some drawbacks, and fingerprinting is no exception. Juniper cautions that there will be a significant education process required to get more people to believe in biometric technology over alphanumeric authentication. Even with the security advantages, there is some trepidation over how personal using fingerprints on smartphones is, effectively using even more personal information than a password.
There are also security issues regarding the forging of fingerprints, which some professional security firms have discovered can be done using certain adhesives on glossy surfaces. These fake fingerprints can successfully trick Apple's Touch ID based on recent security tests, largely because the hardware can't recognize foreign hands using the correct fingerprints. Security analysts estimate that as more biometric apps enter the market, software improvements will help with more accurate fingerprint scans, but other biometric methods like facial recognition and ear-prints could become more prevalent, and would be more secure.
Thanks to the prevalence of Touch ID in new smartphones, businesses and consumers are becoming more interested in ditching alphanumeric protected systems for commerce and security. There will be some hiccups with security, as no security system is entirely perfect, but it's reasonable to say that having to remember a dozen or so passwords could be a thing of the past very soon.