Using smartphones for ID authentication

The technology built into most smartphones can provide more sophisticated authentication than a paper drivers’ license or passport.

The Iowa Department of Transportation, for example, announced in December 2014 that it was about to release a driver's license app for smartphones.  Initially, the digital license would only be an alternative to the paper temporary licenses issued by the department.  But according to Mark Lowe, director of the state's Motor Vehicle Division, “The ultimate goal is that we get to the point where we see customers elect to use this in addition to or in lieu of the driver’s license.”

People are more likely to leave their ID badge in the jacket they wore yesterday than they are to forget their cell phone.  So why not use the phone itself as an authenticating device?

Many companies and some government entities are beginning to do just that.

Apart making for one less document to lose, Lowe said that unlike with physical licenses, which are generally only examined visually, the owner of a digital license can also be confirmed by biometric devices on smartphones.  And while a lost physical license can be used for nefarious purposes by others, digital licenses on lost smartphones can be remotely wiped clean.

In the private sector, United Airlines is using smartphone cameras to determine the authenticity of passports and the identification of travelers during the process of issuing boarding passes for international flights.  The airline has deployed Jumio's Netverify Mobile, which launched last year, to offer travelers a way to avoid standing in long lines.

According to Marc Barach, chief marketing officer at the credentials management company, the user is prompted to click on a button that is marked, "Show your passport."  The customer is then guided to hold up his passport open to the photo page to the camera.

"We're not taking a picture and nothing is stored on the device," explained Barach.  Instead, the document is scanned and analyzed by Jumio's software.  The process takes about 90 seconds.  "We are able to detect with a very high degree of certainly when we see a fraudulent document," said Barach.  "Also, we extract information from it – name, passport number – and put it right into the form. About 90 seconds later you're issued your international boarding pass."

A critical second step in the process, of course, is determining that the person with the document is who he claims to be.  "Step two of the process is the face match," said Barach.  "That is where the individual then holds up their camera to their face and in real time we scan their face and match their face with the image on the document. Then we render a score as to what extent we think it's one and the same. Clearly it can never be 100 percent.  Maybe someone is a twin, or maybe someone has grown a beard."

Ultimately, of course, a human may have to judge whether a partial match is accurate or not.  And at present the 90 seconds required for processing can make the technology inappropriate for some purposes, such as accessing buildings or rooms.  But Barach said the company is working on improvements.  "We're working to bring that time down, hopefully ultimately down to just a few seconds," he said.

Smartphones are also beginning to be used in lieu of smartcards and tokens for access to physical spaces or devices. 

For example, Symantec recently introduced VIP Access for Mobile, software that turns a smartphone into a security token.  (The VIP stands for "validation and ID protection.)  The hosted service eliminates the need for IT staff to configure and distribute hardware tokens to users. 

Smartphones serving as authentication devices can, in short, offer convenience to both system administrators and end users.  But the technology promises some unexpected benefits for the latter group.  Just as consumers are already receiving boarding passes on their smartphones, soon they can be receiving digital keys to their hotel rooms, eliminating the need to wait in a line at the front desk.

Best of all for many of us who are short-term-memory challenged, once smartphone authentication is supported by the other devices we use, including our computers, we will be relieved of the need to remember and to change complex passwords.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.