• Close

Biometrics is swiping its way into our lives

Businessesin Indiaare recognising the need to secure their most critical assets with authentication technology that is easy, fast, secureand cheap,saysJames Stickland, CEO of Veridium which designsmulti-factor authentication solutions using biometrics to safeguard enterprise’s most critical assets. In an exclusiveinterviewwith Smefutures,Sticklandtalks about howIndia is embracing biometrics and howbiometrics is going to be an integral part of our day to day life.


Howhaveauthentication techniques evolved over the years?

For thelast 25 years, authentication and passwordhave made themselvesindispensable in our lives,especially on enterprise level.Overthatperiodwe witnessed a rapid technological improvements in the field.For instance, the complexityofthe password continues to be incredibly challenging. Today, every enterprise asks our system administration teamsto think of ways to make passwords more complex, like extra characters, extra details, numbers, etc.Biometrics have caught on within a short period.Especially in the banking sector, there is a huge market shift.Fromsimple logging in, authenticating transactions, payment processingandauthenticatingenterprise services to retail banking processing,biometrics have come a long way.


Do you see rise in companies coming forth to adopt biometric authentication solutions?

Yes, absolutely.Financial services institutions tend to lead the way here, because of the complexity of operations, risks and size of the asset price. So, we see a lot of financial services companies using biometrics as a full level authentication for clients. They are using biometricsfrom the very first step of in-access and control on-boarding right to execution.For instance, a big banking institutionwillhave thousandsofemployees.This means the cost is huge formanagingpassword security.Here,biometric authentication solutions give the organisationanopportunity to utilise personal biometrics as not just a simple form of authentication, but strong form of authentication as well.


What are the trends at small and medium businesseslevel?

Biometric authentication is no longer at the enterprise level.Not only small businesses need to manage and interact with their ecosystem, their clients, but also their employees. SME firmsusuallydoesn’t have huge IT budgetsandcan’t create complex security policies for client environment. So most SMEs are looking for simplicity of the process,as well aslooking for security and these two things generally don’t come together. Thankfully, biometrics is one of those forms where authentication both as a user or a client offering, gives you that real chance. So, we’re seeing a lot of comfort with use of biometrics in small businesses. In fact, Apple hadbeen a big helpin taking biometrics forward and making it popular withface id, etc,. Android is also helping us in enhancing people’s comfort levels of the use of biometrics. Now the userusebiometricswith easein their everyday retail or consumer life. And this is allowing us to deliver that into their workplace.


Do you have Indian companies onboard?

Yes, we do. We’re huge fans of the Indian market.It hasreallytaken tobiometrics. The national identification process, Aadhaar,that's been running for the last three to five yearsas well asinitiatives from National Payment Commission of India(NPCI)is probably the best in the world. Withthesekind of initiatives, we have started to see India as a real leader in the use of biometrics as a form of authentication.

For us financial services is a big opportunity as there are huge financial services firms in the countrythatare extremely assertivein theuse of biometrics.Now the whole payment ecosystem is incredibly strong, utilising biometrics as a form of payment.We arealsofocusing on pharmaceuticals and healthcare sectors, like using biometrics in administering aidand right drug to the right individual.


Please give us some insightsaboutsome of the R&D areas that Veridium is working on?

This world never stands still, that’s absolutely clear for us. Some of the big areas of interest that we’re working on is where does our actual identity gets stored? That’s a huge question mark, and if you can imagine, there are lots of variations on the policy of process. There’s a central storage mechanism with a matching capability. There’s a local storing mechanism with the matching capability, but we are strong believers in the ability to be able to make it even more hyper secure by having a distributed template of biometrics.There areso many patents around how we store and distribute the templates of our biometrics.They arenot wholly owned by one specific person.

People often get nervouswhen faced with thequestion ofwhere is theirbiometricsstored.What we want to do is give them a technology infrastructure that supportsthesensitivityof the issue ofbiometricsstorage.Thisalso allows us to focus on the storage locations. We are also working with blockchain technology as storage mechanism for increased safety and security. We’ve been spending a lot of time on launching our own behavioural capabilities around things that we do with implicit authentication as well as explicit. So we see a world ever evolving with explicit authentication measures like basis, fingers, iris coexistingand coalescingwith implicit authentication measures.


Canbiometrics put a check onattacks likeransomware?

No, biometricswon’t solve attackssuch asransomware. But yes, there’s an opportunity for it to play a part in how it resolves the ransomware attacks. Authenticating, managing and locking the front door is inevitably the biggest focus for a lot of institutions these days.Patching is clearly the biggest focus for ransomware. Making sure that everybodyiscompletely up to date with their own ecosystems, so that we don’t have anything left behind, locking the front door and ensuring authentication measures at the front end can absolutely reduce the complexity and the challenge that you get with a ransomware type attack.

What according to you are some of the top challenges for organisations, especially SMEs, who leverage biometrics?

In my opinion, biometrics can solve the unnecessary complexityinmanaging password or state of internal employee base. It’s a one time only set up. Thus the costisalso reduced dramatically,even while making sure thatthedata, which is inevitably the most important part of any business, is absolutely managed and controlled.Making biometrics a part of security policiesisessential for internal access and management control. Also, making clients’ experience more simple isachallenge. So again, the authentication measures through the supply chain I think are incredibly powerful for SMEs.Biometrics, not just simplify the process, butit alsoreducesfraud. Anditreducesthe landscape whereonecould potentially be exposedtoinappropriate activities. SMEs are clearly at the point of risk because they have highly liquid balance sheets.And hence they aremore targeted by hackers.


Where do you see biometric authentication as a technology and Veridium as a service provider five years down the line?

Biometricswill becompletely pervasive in our experience.It will be part of our day to dayactivity. For example, logging in and out into our phones and laptops, for making money, accessing our ecosystem,andordering things online.We willeven accept paymentbased on abiometricssystem. And I think the end of passwordsis near. I think region also plays a big role in adopting the exponential technologies. Indian markets will help us drive the awareness in the usage of biometrics in rest of the world. When you look at North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, I think it’s clearly behind what India has achieved and I’m hoping that the success that India will have willencouragethe rest of the worldto adapt the technology.