In many ways mobile has been the main tech story of 2013, from the latest smartphones at CES to mobile lifestyle trends at CTIA.

It’s perhaps surprising then that stats released at CTIA in May indicate that many smartphone users are still not securing their devices despite the fact that mobiles are quickly becoming the de-facto browsing interface which allows people to shop, bank and email on the go.

I’ve already written articles about securing your mobile devices with passwords and security software but what can be done beyond that? What does the future hold for securing our data and our devices?

In many ways, the future of mobile security looks quite exciting and among other technologies, we will use biometric authentication to protect our mobiles and the precious data that we store on them.

What is biometric authentication? Quite simply it’s a way of identifying an individual based on their physical properties.

In terms of mobile, there are three main biometric contenders that are vying to be our security test of choice: fingerprint scanning, iris scanning and voice recognition. But how secure are these forms of futuristic security, and how soon will it be before we see them in place?


Fingerprint scanning:

Security:  medium-high

Feasibility: high

Convenience: Very handy

Fingerprinting has obviously been around for a long time as an identifier and was one of the first biometric processes introduced to computing.

Certain laptops already have fingerprint readers and translating that technology to mobile shouldn’t be hard especially when you consider that mobile computing is getting more “touch” based.

Fingerprint authentication is a real possibility and as long as phones retain tactile input (which innovations like Google Glass might change) it could be an easy and affordable solution.

Voice recognition:

Security: medium

Feasibility: high

Convenience: Open sesame


Voice recognition has been receiving a lot of interest of late, less as a security measure but instead as general utility. Siri and the dozens of other voice recognition systems have been aiming to revolutionise the way we interact with our devices. Whether or not voice commands will be superseded by retina-based inputs before they really get off the ground remains to be seen.

While voice commands are certainly convenient and are becoming increasingly reliable as technology improves, they might be replaced by other types of biometric authentication that are  more reliable, convenient and ultimately more secure.

Iris scanning:

Security: High


Convenience: The eyes have it

Iris scanning has also been in the public consciousness for a good many years now but mostly as a thing of fiction. Who can forget the gruesome iris scanner scene from the movie Demolition Man?

Fortunately for most of us, our eyeballs stay firmly in our skulls and, being unique, they are a very easy and convenient way for us to authenticate our interactions with our computers.

Iris scanning gains a new lease of life as computers look as if they might be moving towards a more retinal input design. As technology improves so that computers can monitor the eye for instructions, the leap to scanning that iris for authorisation really isn’t that large.


For more information about biometric authentication, I’d recommend reading’s recent research into mobile biometric authentication.