Fingerprint Authentication for Facebook?
IEEE Spectrum tells me about an upcoming software by AuthenTec that makes me feel like our world is finally moving toward Spielberg’s “Minority Report.”
Fingerprint authentication technology is no longer going to be reserved for secret high clearance government facilities – instead for us Average Joes, we get to use fingerprint clearance for accessing email, logging into social networks like Facebook or Twitter, and anything else that requires a password.
AuthenTec’s TrueSuite software is adapting fingerprint authentication into a means to make our computer activities more convenient. How? Picture this scenario: Your laptop is installed with this software. On your laptop, you swipe your ring finger (right hand), your Gmail pops up. It’s already logged into your inbox. You swipe your index finger (right hand), you’re looking at your Facebook newsfeed. You swipe your ring finger (left hand), you’re looking at your eBay bidding account.
Different fingers can be used to authenticate different accounts with TrueSuite. On its own, any of these functions are multi-step. (For example, even checking Twitter requires that 1) you wake up your laptop, 2) start your OS, 3) navigate to a browser, 4) go to the Twitter site, 5) login with password. On laptops more than a couple years old this can mean you’ve aged 20 minutes before you find out what was in Ashton’s latest tweet to Demi.
TrueSuite reduces this into a finger swipe.
And AuthenTec is working on even more. For those of us who viciously, compulsively check our emails to see if there’s something new in our inbox (only to feel a strange hollowness inside when there isn’t… or maybe it’s just me) – you don’t have to anymore. The software will incorporate blinking LED lights, all color-coded to tell you the status of your accounts. Depending on the color, the lights mean that you have a new email waiting, or perhaps a new message in Facebook. You don’t even need to go to your laptop and check; you’ll know as long as you’re in visual proximity. I’m excited because in my mind, this brings us one step closer to a “Minority Report” future. First I swipe my finger, next – a holographic ninja that looks like Tom Cruise will exit my laptop and deliver my holographic email.
I said ninja because I still want security for my accounts. The downside is that TrueSuite’s fingerprint authentication security is debatable. Currently advanced features are in place to ensure security – AuthenTec uses radio frequencies to measure the ridges beneath your fingerprint (they call this the “live layer” since it’s not just a visual) to ensure correct user identity. –> This means the finger needs to be “alive.” –> This means that there will be no more “what if” scenario where terrorists kidnap you, and chop off your finger in order to check your email. The goal is to make fingerprint authentication technology, or biometrics, fool-proof and highly secure.
As with anything else, the concern is that even your fingerprints will be compromised and reproduced somehow (despite the live layer). If anything is around for long enough, the risk factor increases that someone will invent a security breach method. Particularly since our fingerprints will be everywhere if this new software technology expands to convenient use in groceries, schools, and other common places.
Advanced security reading technology (like fingerprint biometrics) would cease to be highly secure if it starts being used for convenience. Being the perpetual optimist, I have a strong inkling that some other measure will be developed to ensure security for the government or companies that really need top security clearance measures. I predict our computers will develop a sixth sense and “just know” when to provide access. (And then they will take over the world.)