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Windows 8.1 bolsters biometrics for authentication

Antone Gonsalves | June 6, 2013
Microsoft's next OS update offers native fingerprint reader support

While banks have sometimes issued fingerprint readers to commercial customers, they have not been as generous toward consumers. However, if the hardware gets embedded in more devices, then banks will likely adopt it for consumers, Pascual said.

Some security experts doubt that Microsoft's push in Windows 8.1 will have much impact in the adoption of fingerprint biometrics. "Fairly high-quality fingerprint reading capabilities have been distributed in the laptop form factor for a long while, but supply for this authentication method has been higher than demand," said Eve Maler, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Other options, such as software-based tokens and sending one-time login codes to a mobile phone, are more popular as a form of two-factor authentication, Maler said.

In addition, fingerprint recognition has serious privacy implications, if a hacker can implant malware that steals an image of the print.

"If a user's fingerprint gets spoofed by an attacker, it's identity theft in a very real sense, and it's hard to undo the damage," Maler said. "How do you revoke your own fingerprints?"

 

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