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Left: Gionee's M6 sports a front finger print scanner. Right: TCL 560 uses iris scan to authenticate the user
 
 
Your phone will soon authenticate your ID

Smart phones  now sport finger and eye scanners to   protect the  owner --offering  exciting possibilities for authentication systems... we bring you two recent developments:
The eyes have IT
By Anand Parthasarathy in Bangalore
August 1 2016: When the Chinese TV and smart phone maker  re-entered the India market  last month, it  chose as its first offering,  a  handset  -- TCL 560 -- which offered  a new way to unlock the device: Eye Verify. Pre-record  a scan of  iris -- and then 'look' into the selfie camera every time  you want  to open the phone... a fool proof way to  prevent  others from doing so. 
Iris scans are now recognized as one of the most secure ways of authenticating a person's identity  since no two persons have the identical iris.  To ensure  you get a good image, The 560  combines a 5 megapixel from camera  with an 84 degree  field of view,  with a HD IPS display.  In other ways,  this is a fairly standard  dual SIM  5.5 inch phone running the latest  Android 6.0 OS -- but the onboard  eye scanner, opens up the exciting possibility that the phone could be tweaked to become a personal tool  for a variety of  authentication applications --   banking, passport control  and  most usefully, Aadhaar. 
With over 1 billion Aadhaar cards issued,  covering 85% of India's population, this has emerged as the world's largest digital   ID system -- but the infrastructure  to  do an Aadhaar based ID check is so woefully inadequate that card- holders are yet to reap the full benefits.  If  every Aadhaar card holder is able to perform self authentication with a phone, it will dramatically reduce  dependence on common service centres.  
In fact officials of the Unique Identification Authority of India,  have   initiated discussion with leading   manufacturers to see how smartphones  with iris and fingerprint scanners can be  embedded with the software to perform Aadhaar authentication -- in effect making them   personal and portable  verification. stations.  It could be a game-changer -- and a global innovation  -- in much the same way that electronic voting machines  were, in an earlier era.
Samsung has already put a UIDAI- approved  iris scanner on a tablet for India for corporate use. Now TCL is signposting the way to  make such technology even more ubiquitous  by putting it on a Rs  7500 device, affordable by individuals.

Digital  ungli chaap
By Vishnu Anand  recently in   Beijing
At a media event in the Chinese capital last week, Gionee  previewed  its  flagship phone, the M6,  with some of the tightest security features to appear on any  handset.  With smartphones increasingly used as payment platforms, the company  has  crafted an integrated hardware security solution that   will debut in China-- then  be offered  in other large markets like India  in versions that adhere to local regulations. 
The M6 unveiled for its home market,  houses an encrypted chip to secure the owners' personal data.  This is because in China, there is no  text message-based  One Time Password or OTP. So the phone needs to ensure  a secure financial transaction.   To meet Indian regulation, the M6 that will be available in India before Diwali, will not feature this chip, but   a front finger-print scanner and enhanced malware prevention.  Gionee  said it will work with the authorities in every country to  localize such features to meet prevalent regulations.  The M6  is a 5.5 inch  full HD Android 6.0 phone with 4 GB RAM, 64 GM storage and  a combination of 13 MP rear and  8 MP front cameras.
Meanwhile  the two factor authentication using OTP may itself be under challenge. Last week, in new draft  guidelines,   the  US National Institute of Standards Technology says    it will no longer recommend using SMS for text messages for security purposes  since  there is  risk that information may be intercepted or redirected.  However not all experts agree: Kevin Panzavecchia, CTO of mobile network security experts HAUD argues that  it is possible to fix the vulnerabilities associated with mobile network hacks, and that the benefits of the system still outweigh the negatives. "It is still the clear front runner", he says. 
These trends will only hasten the day when  our phones  will provide the authoritative answer to the question: 'Am I , who I say I am?'




    


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