Under the theme “Fraud Watch 2019” there is an article titled “Making Sure You Are You” in the April 2019 AARP bulletin.

I think that passwords can be frustrating to both young and old alike.  Soon, passwords will be obsolete as a body of science called a biometric authentication continues to advance.  Rather than typing in a password with those pesky upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, technology companies are developing tools that instead will use fingerprints, voice recognition, eye scans, facial recognition and even a quick analysis of your physical behavior (the way we tap our keyboard or move the mouse) to serve as a gate to our accounts or as an alert that an unauthorized user has gained access to our confidential information.

The article, by Lexi Pandell, goes on to state that facial recognition tools have been used since 2011.  Since its rather insecure beginning, the current version of Apple’s Face ID is much more advanced and secure.  I found it interesting that, the precise way we swipe at a smart phone screen, the angle at which we hold it, our typing speed and the way in which we move our mouse is unique to each one of us. Therefore, tracking these movements over time creates a form of continuous authentication.  Smart phones contain gyroscopes that can measure how we hold our phone, screens that respond to varying pressure from our fingers and accelerometers that measure whether we tend to walk or sit while interacting with particular sites!

When we reach a call center, in addition to the operator, there is also a computer analyzing our voice as we ask to access our account.  This technology is being used most by banks, medical groups and telecommunications companies.  (At least with voice authentication, we don’t have to remember passwords, pins, our mother’s maiden name and/or any other security questions we may have originally selected!)

What else seems to be unique to us is our heartbeat’s electrical rhythm – whether we’re sitting still – or taking a brisk walk.  Now, ECG monitors are incorporated into watches and wristbands to communicate with other devices via Bluetooth.

While “saying goodbye to passwords” may seem like a welcome change, I am one that still needs to be convinced that successive generations actually offer a better solution.  As always, time will tell!

Barb Culver