Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Brussels BRU to trial eGates

Brussels Airport starts facial recognition trials (Flanders Today)
Brussels Airport plans to introduce facial recognition scanners next year, the management company said. The technology is already in use at other major airports in Europe, including Heathrow and Schiphol.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nigeria: Biometrics used to detect unqualified teachers

Plateau sacks 1,400 teachers with fake certificates (Vanguard)
Mang said the biometric exercise embarked upon by SUBEB was to sanitise the sector and ensure that only qualified teachers were allowed to teach. “The exercise, conducted in batches, is part of efforts by the Plateau State Government to improve standard of education in the state,” she said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Of course they do

Australians support biometrics at airports (Computerworld)

Nine in ten Australians are willing to hand over biometric details including fingerprints when travelling across international borders, according to an Accenture survey.

Biometrics can't do everything

Biometric registration can't solve election problems - EC (Ghana News Agency)
Dr Afari-Gyan said from the experience in Ghana, the introduction of the biometric machine in the voting process of elections was not the absolute answer to all election problems.

“The machines are not always the full answers to our problem, because they cannot distinguish between fingerprints of a minor and an adult, or a foreigner and an indigene,” Dr Afari-Gyan said.

Rather,he called for supervision and monitoring of the entire election process as well as training of people who operated the biometric machines to ensure that all eligible voters were identified and allowed to vote accordingly.
It's true. A technological system designed to account for people can never free itself entirely from the "human element."

...and I don't think you'd want it to.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Utopia or dystopia? Probably neither.

UK: Facial recognition for law enforcement (Extreme Tech) — Face recognition surveillance, like most technology, is getting better.

Biometric verifications are becoming more popular

Biometrics emerge as pass code alternative (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Biometrics detect more Nigerian ghosts

Delta Bio-metric Payroll System Uncovers Scam (Spy Ghana)
The Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) of the Delta State Biometric Payroll System has uncovered 17 staff from the Women Development Committee (WDC) and Youth Development Committee scheme (YDC) who were collecting salaries from both agencies.

No. Iris? Perhaps.

Does Samsung Have a Retina Scanning Smartphone Coming? (TechnoBuffalo)

The iris (left), which gives people "eye color," controls how much light enters the eyeball. The retina (right) is the structure laying along the inside, back surface of the eyeball that translates light into nervous impulses for the optic nerve to send to the brain.

In a camera analogy, the iris would be, well, the iris, since cameras have them, too. The retina would be the film, or in an even better digital analogy, the charge-coupled device (CCD) that translates light into ones and zeros for computer chips.

Mobile iris technology is much more straightforward than mobile retina technology and is far more likely to be coming soon to a smartphone near you.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Waiting for the kitchen sink

Biometric Smart ID Cards: Dumb Idea — Every anti-biometrics argument in one convenient resource, including NO2ID, and the horribly mischaracterized Israel "biometrics" data breach.
The Extinction of Passwords (Business 2 Community)
Currently, passwords are total chaos. In fact, most people have terrible passwords that are easy for hackers to guess. Even worse, many people use the same password for all their accounts, and they haven’t changed their password for years. So all a hacker has to do is guess the password once and they’ll have access to the user’s entire life. And while we were all advised to change our passwords after the recent Heartbleed attack, very few of us actually did.

Since we’re not really managing our passwords appropriately, it’s time to get rid of the hassle of passwords and use something with more data points and that is unique to each individual.

India funds UID through 2015

INDIA: Government to continue Aadhaar, provides ₹20 billion in 2014-15. The amount provided for the project for this fiscal is higher than Rs 1,550 crore provided in the previous year. 20 billion rupees is approximately 332.5 million US dollars.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NFC + Mobile + Biometrics = The Future of Payments

British Banking Association reports on UK’s banking ‘revolution’ (NFC World)
“The revolution in the way we spend, move and manage our money is not over,” the report says. “Banks are looking at a range of new technologies to make banking even easier and more flexible. Biometric data could make accounts safer and security features more straight forward for legitimate transactions.

“Near field technology could end the need for taking your card out of your wallet or purse to make a purchase. Banks will strive to innovate because they know it’s a way to win new customers.”
The combination of mobile handheld device hardware (i.e. the perfect token), biometric ID verification, and NFC provides the tools for building extremely powerful ID management regimes.

Banks appear to be realizing that systems like these could make for happier customers and pose a real threat to the credit card/debit card/clearing house/merchant bank model of card-based payments provided by organizations such as Visa and Mastercard.

It's possible that banks that successfully negotiate this opportunity could begin to take back some of the 3% of credit card transaction value (a massive amount of money) collected by credit card companies, but in order to do that banks will have to figure out how to make an extremely secure mobile app that that lives on a device that has a massive attack surface.

Elsewhere in the news, Norwegian start-up Zwipe is trying to solve this riddle with dedicated hardware. As compared to networked mobile devices such as smartphones, the Zwipe device has a tiny attack surface in that users can't download viruses to it via cellular signals, wifi or SMS. But in the name of security, the Zwipe device lacks some of the connectivity attributes that make smart devices so attractive for true e-commerce transactions rather than "point-of-sale only" transactions.

No matter how all this shakes out, this is a trillion dollar riddle and biometrics are a near certainty to factor in the solution.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

This should surprise no one

Facebook base may be better than the FBI facial recognition base — They've had more people feeding it better information with fewer legal barriers.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Large customers need biometrics to be more convenient

Fingerprints still too unreliable for banks (MIS - Asia)
Still, organisations across multiple sectors are exploring the use of several types of biometric technologies. The Australian Passport Office last November issued a tender for new biometrics technologies.

The organisation has been using facial recognition for its passport production process since 2005.

In 2012, ANZ Bank said it was exploring using fingerprint recognition technology to replace traditional PIN codes.

Parker said there an interesting discussion under way now about how secure a transaction has to be and how much organisations and consumers are you willing to pay for a certain level of security.

"If you're protecting the front door or the control panel of a nuclear arsenal, you probably want to spend a lot of money on security to make sure it's top grade and nobody can get through it.
It looks like people are starting to come to grips with the "compared to what?" and "perfect vs. good" arguments we've been making here for a while now.

We'd also suggest a revised headline for the article linked above: "Fingerprints not Convenient Enough for Large Customers." We'd agree with that one.

As it stands now, biometrics algorithm developers and large system vendors aren't really finding much success at supporting customers for whom ID management isn't their primary business. And nearly all organizations for whom ID management is their primary business are government entities. This goes some distance toward explaining why the private market for biometrics has been slow to develop.

It's also the challenge we have built SecurLinx to meet. In this example, banks aren't in the ID business; they're in the money business, but they do have to get ID right — or at least predictably wrong — in order to do their job. Magnetic stripes, sixteen digit numbers and passwords aren't great, but they are predictable. They are convenient at an affordable cost.

Biometrics companies must deliver solutions to customers that can add security and at least come close to the convenience of the systems they seek to replace.

Will future life insurance underwriters use face scanning technology?

Not really biometrics but...

Can your face reveal how long you’ll live? New technology may provide the answer. (Washington Post)
Imagine that an insurance underwriter comes to your house and, along with noting your weight and blood pressure, snaps a photo of your face. And that those wrinkles, mottled spots and saggy parts, when fed into a computer, could estimate how long you will live.

Facial recognition technology, long used to search for criminals and to guess how a missing child might look as an adult, may soon become personal. A group of scientists is working on a system that would analyze an individual’s prospects based on how his or her face has aged.

From a Times of India blog...

Don’t junk Aadhaar: It will help NDA government achieve its goals
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has struck the right note by stepping in quickly to clear the confusion on Aadhaar cards and asking to scale up enrollments to 100 crore people over a short period. This will help the government accelerate direct benefit transfers to the poor, reduce leakages and bring down the fiscal deficit.

It looks like India's new government is giving UID some room to run. 100 crore is a billion people.

See also:
Aadhaar, DBT get a lifeline, Modi to retain, push UPA schemes
Putting to rest speculation about the fate of the UPA government’s flagship Aadhaar project and the Direct Benefits Transfer scheme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday sought a 100-crore enrolment target under Aadhaar at the “earliest”, also asking officials to look into linking passports with its data.
This is big news indeed.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

India: Latest in NPR v UID

Tug of war over Aadhaar slowing its progress (Hindustan Times)
Three NDA ministries are trying to pull the UPA’s signature project, Aadhaar, in different directions, threatening to further slow down the plan to give all residents a unique identity number (UID).

We discussed the root philosophical differences inherent in the two ID systems here in How Much Fraud is Acceptable in NPR, UID where we observed that:
Bringing full citizenship rights to poor, illiterate landless Indians brings with it a near-certainty that full citizenship rights will be conferred upon some number of poor, illiterate, landless non-Indians living in India.
If you're interested, I'd encourage you to read the whole thing.

Also, the India, UID and NPR labels in the footer of this post call up a lot of in-depth analysis of what's going on with the most ambitious ID project ever conceived.

Big news from Australia

Everyone entering Australia to have biometric data scanned (Australia Forum)
A $700 million update to Australia’s border management system will mean that everyone entering the country will have their data scanned and matched against a biometrics database.
Australia is well suited to give this a good chance of working. You can't drive there, or walk there, and their stringent agricultural controls and efforts to keep rabies out means that they're already used to being pretty careful at points of entry.