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Gemalto: Biometrics on the verge of ‘silent authentication’

Biometric authentication, already a key component in digital ID efforts, is just getting started but its future may be in something called “silent authentication.” Gemalto, in a recent article, makes the case for what the digital ID firm calls silent authentication – a next-step concept that more commonly goes by the phrase “behavioral biometrics.”

The idea is to take biometric authentication to the next level and use more complicated and hard-to-fool personal metrics

The idea is to take biometric authentication to the next level and use hard-to-fool behavioral metrics like how a person swipes or simply holds his or her smartphone, or how that person walks, to confirm that the person is entitled to legitimately access a building or take delivery of a product ordered online.

Silent authentication gains steam

The concept of silent authentication is gaining steam as eCommerce, online financial transactions and digital ID are merging into a new and massive ecosystem that promise to include so-called smart homes and increasingly web-connected (and eventually self-driving) vehicles. Talk to any professional operating in those areas and you’ll learn that one of the guiding ideals of that emerging world is “seamless” transactions and authentication — as Gemalto notes.

Silent authentication makes use of “of the sensors and signals that surround us on a daily basis – Bluetooth devices and Wi-Fi networks, for example,” the article says. “Data is then compared in real-time to expected consumer patterns and this allows each individual to be securely authenticated whilst creating a seamless, uninterrupted user experience.”

Machine learning and artificial intelligence software — both of which are seeing increased use in various sectors including government digital ID and financial institution fraud prevention – helps determine the identity of person via those “silent” biometrics.

Silent authentication use cases

According to Gemalto, “eCommerce is one of the sectors ideally positioned to harness and benefit from silent authentication. Its ability to provide real-time identification that improves the customer experience can help retailers meet evolving consumer demands.” In fact, that biometric authentication method could mesh in the future with product deliveries made by autonomous cars.

Autonomous cars and trucks are on their way — at least judging by the increasing pace of tests by the likes of Google’s parent company and other players — but first up is the next generation of connected vehicles. “Silent authentication using behavioral biometrics could signal the end of that age-old problem – losing your car keys,” Gemalto says. “For a seamless access experience, silent authentication can be used to open the door of a vehicle as you approach it, or even start the car just by just sitting in the driving seat.”

Silent authentication will have a role in smart homes and the Internet of Things as well, the article predicts. “As well as providing a robust security solution, silent authentication can identify individuals and ensure that access to certain devices can only be gained by them,” it says.

But home security is only one aspect of silent authentication. “When your smart home recognizes you, it will be able to personalize the experience by automatically adjusting things such as lights, TV channels or even your favorite drink to your preferences.”

As for government use, the U.S. Department of Defense will likely take the lead on this newer, emerging form of biometric authentication. In fact, that agency, according to the article, is “funding a smartphone-based identity verification project that officials say could revolutionize the way companies, federal agencies and the military verify individuals. By using smartphone hardware linked to a risk score algorithm, factors such as gait, hand pressure and wrist tension can be used to verify that users are who they say they are.”

Though silent authentication may still be just over the horizon, it’s becoming clearer what is coming.

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