Conor White, FIDO Alliance board member
18 December 2014 10:50 GMT

The cybersecurity industry has been a challenging and rewarding field that I have enjoyed for nearly 20 years and I can honestly say that I have never been as excited as I am today, watching the widespread acceptance and adoption of biometric authentication in our lives. 

For years, industry analysts have been saying, “next year” will see widespread adoption of biometrics in the enterprise and with consumers.  I believe that 2014 was actually the turning point where biometrics fundamentally influenced the lives of everyday consumers. 

We are no longer on the cusp of broad biometric adoption, we’re in the midst of it.  Facial recognition powers our social media applications, gaming consoles, and mobile phones.  Voice recognition transparently protects customer service calls.  With the advent of fingerprint-enabled mobile devices, your thumb print has shifted in perception from something viewed on television shows like “CSI” to casual, everyday authentication. 

Consumers have embraced the idea of human authentication – not something you must remember, nor even a separate device in your pocket, but your inherent uniqueness.  That is the value of biometrics - it authenticates the person, rather than a thing.

And while we’ve watched acceptance of biometric authentication increase, we have seen the utter failure of 20th century password protection. Identity is the new money!

We have been saying this for over four years now.  We are at a point where fraud rates are so high and the cost and consequences of identity theft are increasing so dramatically that something clearly needs to be done to fix this broken (password) model.

Despite this, consumers have been very clear that their priority is convenience and user-friendliness. While enterprises and those of us in the security industry traditionally focus on protection, consumers take this for granted and demand a fast, seamless experience. 

They won’t fumble with a separate hardware token or “fat finger” complex passwords into a mobile keypad.  Having a mobile device smoothly authenticate you is what every user wants.  Feedback from our customer deployments is tremendously positive – the traditional tradeoff of security vs convenience is no longer relevant – biometrics can make interactions secure AND more convenient.

Additionally, the FIDO Alliance (of which we are a board member) made tremendous progress in 2014 and reached a major milestone in December with the publication of its specifications.  

We are now at a point where we will shortly see products emerge that are interoperable and compliant with FIDO.  Organizations will be in a position in 2015 to adopt this technology to enable fast, password-less authentication for their users.

For enterprises that protect sensitive information, whether financial, healthcare, or simply personal data, I’m seeing a very strong adoption rate.  2015 will be transformative for the industry.

Ironically, as biometrics enable our 21st century lives, we become less and less aware of the technology in the background.  And really, isn’t that the point?