The use of passwords to authenticate identity is flawed and unreliable. It would require a feat of memory beyond the capacity of the vast majority of the planet to be able to recall instantly a unique password for every single work and personal account. Often the security questions that are asked to support validation are confusing, spurious and reliant on unwavering and strong opinions. My favourite film? A memorable date? My favourite sandwich filling? Seriously? I'm fairly fickle, have a dodgy memory and am prone to indecision. These questions set me in a tailspin.
And the issue with passwords is not just customer inconvenience. With cyber-attacks becoming more sophisticated and commonplace, passwords are also failing from a security point of view. Following a major cyber-attack that compromised the personal details of hundreds of thousands of customers, TalkTalk has now adopted a biometric authentication solution.
Technology that recognises voice characteristics will now be used to identify callers. Customers ringing in to the customer service line will be asked to repeat a phrase three times to enable a print of the customer's voice to be created. Voice biometrics will reduce the amount of sensitive information that has to be disclosed and should be an inimitable identifier.
Amazon are also turning to biometrics and have recently patented a solution to allow purchasers to use their faces to validate their identity. Again, it would require users to create a blueprint of their image by posing for several photographs and even a video so some movements are recognised.
The banking industry are also attempting to stay one step ahead of the hackers. HSBC has recently announced the launch of voice recognition and touch security services which Francesca McDonagh, head of retail banking and wealth management, claims will be "the largest planned rollout of voice biometric security technology in the UK". Barclays has already introduced voice recognition software to a limited number of clients and RBS and NatWest now offer finger print technology.
With more and more websites, accounts and applications requiring users to authenticate their identities and more and more cyber attacks wreaking havoc and financial devastation, biometrics must offer the most secure and reliable solution for the future.