Biometrics key to protecting data from theft; Axiom

CompTIA reveals 60% of UAE businesses have experienced a mobile-related security incident in the past 12 months

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Biometrics key to protecting data from theft; Axiom Faisal Al Banna: "Your very identity is at risk of theft, yet a worrying number of users fail to activate their phone's security features."
By  Aasha Bodhani Published  June 30, 2016

Axiom Telecom states biometric capabilities will drive improvements in protecting mobile phone users from cybercriminals stealing private or business data.

The International Trends in Cybersecurity report by CompTIA found that almost 50% of UAE businesses had experienced at least one IT security breach in the previous 12 months, with reliance on cloud computing and mobile technology forcing a change in security practices.

Furthermore, 60% reported a mobile-related security incident, including lost devices, mobile malware, phishing attacks and staff disabling mobile devices' security features.

"The risk of criminals using a lost or stolen mobile phone to access important data is very real, with smartphones offering an instant connection to email, messaging and social networking accounts, as well as files kept in cloud storage," said Axiom managing director, Faisal Al Bannai.

"Your very identity is at risk of theft, yet a worrying number of users fail to activate their phone's security features. The inconvenience of entering a PIN every time the user wants to unlock the phone is often cited as a reason for this. Using biometrics to unlock the phone can remove this inconvenience and help keep data secure, with fingerprint security already gaining acceptance," he added.

A report from market intelligence firm Tractica has noted 2015 as being a ‘tipping point' for mobile biometrics, with fingerprints emerging as the most common form of biometric authentication. Tractica predicts the number of mobile phones being shipped with fingerprint recognition will surpass one billion per year globally by 2021, representing 34% of the market.

However, the security of a fingerprint has been questioned. Traditional IT security relies on ‘something you know', such as a password, or ‘something you have', such as when you receive an SMS ‘token' to complete a credit card purchase online. Biometrics are also ‘something you have' - your fingerprint is unique, but tests have shown that and staff disabling mobile devices' security features.

Al Bannai said: "For a higher level of protection, biometrics pave the way for convenient two-factor verification - you enter a PIN, using ‘something you know' to verify your identity, and then use a fingerprint, which is ‘something you have', to confirm that it was you who entered the code. Anyone trying to break into the phone needs to know the PIN, and also somehow obtain a copy of your fingerprint. That is going to be very difficult."

To add, Al Bannai believes iris and voice are the most likely to gain mainstream acceptance.

"Devices with iris scanners are already on the market, although they have yet to achieve widespread take-up, while voice recognition is tipped to be included in future versions of ‘intelligent personal assistant' systems, such as Apple's Siri, Google Now and Microsoft Cortana," said Al Bannai.

"A fingerprint is the most easily accepted biometric key, because it so closely replicates the way we are already accustomed to interacting with the device, but the most important aspect of fingerprint authentication may be as a step towards people accepting a range of other biometrics. Combined, these will lead to a quantum leap in terms of data security."

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