We human beings are creatures of habit. Because something was a certain way yesterday, we expect it to be the same way today and tomorrow. But if you’re like most of us, technological changes in recent years have led you to rethink assumptions as familiar routines have fallen by the wayside: When was the last time you licked a stamp, used a payphone, or wrote a check at the supermarket?
In my last blog post, I wrote in general about game-changing technologies that would radically transform the way we work with technology and conduct business. In this post and in weeks to come, I’ll provide some specific examples, beginning with another technological relic we can all say goodbye to soon: Passwords.
Even though we’ve depended on them for decades, it’s clear that password protection provides only marginal security, at best. They’re easily lost, forgotten, and stolen. Worst of all, they are usually terrifyingly easy to figure out: Some recent estimates indicate that a correctly-configured computer can figure out any eight-character password in only a few seconds.
Clearly, better authentication methods are called for. Not surprisingly, technology advances are providing some worthwhile options – and as usual, the machines are going to be asked with doing much of the hard work for us.
The devices coming into all business environments – and sooner than you think – are designed to actively recognize us, enabling us to take actions or access information. Here are some of the ways they’ll do it:
- Biometric Identification. You may have already used fingerprint ID systems at the bank or on your iPhone, but these are just the beginning of what promises to be an exploding industry sector. Current projections are that biometric ID systems for the smartphone market alone are going to exceed $160 billion worldwide this year, and emerging offerings include retina scanning, facial recognition, and voice recognition. Many Japanese banks currently verify IDs by scanning veins in the palm of the hand, a technology likely to surface here as well.
- Multi-Factor Authentication. You may have seen these in online banking or password recovery systems: ID verification using a combination of elements, such as a PIN number, SMS text message, and secret answer question. By combining secret knowledge and “smart” objects expected to be held only by the right user, systems such as the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform are able to verify IDs with much greater accuracy.
As cloud computing attains greater prominence and as “cybercrime,” online identity theft, and other forms of digitally-enabled fraud come to victimize more and more individuals and businesses, it’s a certainty that more robust, complex authentication systems will become the standard. In the short term, this might mean some additional hassle for businesses as they update processes and systems. Over time, though, the increased security will enable implementation of more game-changing technologies – and cheaper, better, more powerful services for businesses and consumers alike.