Ever since the first lock and key or digital log-in and password were created, logical security and physical security have always been two separate concepts. Technologists have searched for decades attempting to find a converged solution and narrow the gap between protecting one’s identity and controlling access to physical and virtual interactions.
Throughout this search, the holy grail of security and identity is to find an appropriate biometric key to fuse physical and logical worlds. Biometric solutions have been an important key to protecting identity, unlocking access control and ensuring transactional integrity–but until now there has not been a scalable, cost-effective, easy-to-use biometric solution available.
Since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, the world has been careening toward a singular moment where information, action and the physical realm all combine into one. And in the coming year or two, we will see a technological leap that will change the world of identity management. Plainly said, your iris will unlock the world.
Iris-based biometrics have been a technology generally relegated to movie screen fiction and the not-so-distant future. Today that is no longer the case–the technology is here. As you read this, iris-based technology is rolling out to the institutional, governmental and consumer markets. Within a year millions of Americans and Europeans will gain access to their offices, their homes and their computers just by looking at a small device that will capture the 2048 unique points of information in each of their irises while in motion, and at a distance.
Soon, every financial transaction will be secured by a biometric signature. Small devices attached to your computer, and eventually sensors around the world, will eradicate financial fraud and ensure that you are who you say you are.
Yes, the idea that your identity will be, captured on camera and put in a data base may set off the ultra liberal and conservative elements within our society. But the real issue here is not for those who worry about the government monitoring your activities; where you are going or what you are buying. This is about protection–the real issue is what it would cost both you, in your personal life, and the government, in its attempt to be as secure and fraud-free as possible, not to employ this technology?
Putting aside the likelihood that the FBI, TSA or Customs departments could have identified and prevented 9/11 from happening had the airlines linked their systems to a international database, the costs to the consumer for identity-based financial fraud each year are staggering. Though there are no definitive global figures on losses from credit-card fraud, as most financial institutions are tight-lipped on the subject, FBI reports indicate over $315 billion in U.S. financial fraud losses each year.
These costs are directly passed on to consumers. For example, when you go to the store and make a $100 purchase with your credit card, for that $100 item, the retailer gets approximately $98. The remaining $2 is a loss of value that the merchant passes on to you. Furthermore, on this average $100 purchase, 50% of the $2 in fees is for fraud risk. For the average American that adds up to over a $1,000 per year–and that’s just credit card fraud.
In a message that resonates loud and clear, a recent study by Unisys found that an individual’s concern about fraud supersedes that of terrorism, computer and health viruses and personal safety. By making online transactions more trustworthy while enhancing consumers’ privacy, we will prevent costly crime, we will give businesses and consumers new confidence and we will foster growth and innovation–online and across all facets of our economy.