We wanted to start National Cybersecurity Awareness Month off by discussing governments’ role in embracing and disseminating a better Cyber Aware world. Governments around the world have actually been a big driving force in the creation of biometric technology – starting with fingerprint recognition.
Fingerprint recognition was the first practical adoption of biometric technology within the American government, initially used in law enforcement – mainly to identify criminals. Back then, officers used actual paper cards and fingerprint stamps. Remember stamps? Today, thanks to technological strides, officers can use software or hardware technology to log and track fingerprints. Biometrics are also being used to control access to high-security buildings, as well as for border control.
Although many governments have developed a healthy relationship with biometrics, the American government, in particular, is falling down on the job on two fronts. First – they don’t practice what they preach, and second – they aren’t utilizing this technology to make your average citizens’ life easier.
Within the past few weeks there have been not one, but two government data breaches. First, Senators shamed the U.S. State Department for not deploying and enforcing stricter cybersecurity practices, such as a strong MFA solution – and within a matter of days, it was revealed that the State Department suffered a breach that compromised employee data. The second was a UN breach that released the passwords and other sensitive data of UN employees. See a trend here? As security attacks get worse and more sophisticated, the government will need to take a stronger stance on cybersecurity, perhaps by adopting biometric authentication.
As citizens increasingly live in a digital world, we want more digital access to government services! An Accenture survey found that people are comfortable and willing to use their smartphone and biometrics to access government services if it makes their lives easier – which it would. Thankfully, many governments, including the US and Australia, are actively investigating how they can leverage mobile technology and biometrics to create digital versions of government identification like passports, drivers licenses, and state or federal ID cards. Physical identification is no longer enough, especially as the need to validate citizens’ identities in person and online grows.
With the prevalence of smartphones, it’s only fitting that some government bodies are testing digital identity. For example, in New South Wales, Australia, they are actually rolling out mobile drivers licenses (mDLs) with the help of blockchain and biometrics. These mDLs would allow citizens to use their smartphones as identification while driving and as proof of age for alcohol sales. Any notifications or suspensions would appear on this digital license, and police officers who needed to would be able to remotely transmit a request for information from their in-car laptops to the phone, so a simple traffic stop could proceed more efficiently for all parties. A few U.S. states, like Delaware, may be testing this technology early in 2019.
It’s safe to say that biometrics are the future, and they will be part of your new digital identity as long as governments around the world buy-in. In order to build a truly cyber secure and cyber aware world, governments need to implement better security too.