Separating Internet of Things (IoT) Hype from Reality is getting increasing difficult as wearables and implants push the boundaries of how and why we should manage identity.
The BBC published a rather lazy article last week entitled "Office puts chips under staff's skin" concerning RFID chip hand implants.
A company in Sweden, succeeded in drumming up some useful PR for their new high tech office building. The BBC correspondent had an RFID chip embedded under his skin (judging by the photo above, quite a painful process); which he used to gain access to the building and was also able to use the photocopier!
What the article didn't mention, but was picked up in the comment thread, was that the BBC covered a remarkably similar article over 10 years ago. So not only does this current RFID technology fail in solving any problems or make life easier, it is also old.
However, to completely dismiss this technology would be slightly short sighted. And at least the BBC article makes some attempt to point to the future;
...Not that useful, but no doubt more sophisticated chips will soon replace wearable technology like fitness bands or payment devices, and we will get used to being augmented. All sorts of things are possible - whether it becomes culturally acceptable to insert technology beneath our skin is another matter.
We recently wrote a piece about NFC capability in the iPhone 6 and soon to be released Apple Watch. Extract Below;
the question isn’t so much about NFC as it is about mobile credentials and, yes, those are going to change access control considerably. Perhaps even more significant than the credential itself (and the possibility of ‘frictionless’ access) is the fact that system providers can now have an ‘app relationship’ with users as opposed to merely a ‘card relationship’. That’s a game changer.
With or without NFC, mobile credentials are inherently more secure for users than a smart card or fob. Users have an existing ‘close’ relationship with their smart phones, they are carried everywhere and used almost constantly.
A RFID implanted chip would certainly have a closer relationship with its user! But we are several years away from any transition away from wearables and mobile devices towards implanted chips. Credible use cases simply do not exist yet just as they did not exist 10 years ago.
Our recent Security Research shows a global Access Control Market spurred on by the exciting opportunities that Identity Management offer. In fact Access Control, for so long the poor relative of Video Surveillance, come out of the shadows in 2014 and upstaged it by delivering a higher growth rate. We forecast that it will continue to increase its growth rate over the next 5 years.
This will be achieved by moving to IP Technology and integrating Access Control with Identity Management. There can be no doubt about the business case for integrating these services.
Identity Management for the purpose of Access Control has given rise to a number of major acquisitions in the last 5 years. September 2010 saw a flurry of activity with the purchase of L-1 Identity Solutions by Safran for $1.1 billion, 3M’s purchase of Cogent Systems for $430m, the merger of AuthenTec and UPEK. In 2014 whilst the number of deals declined, this group accounted for 19.2% of the total number of acquisitions and 5.6% of the total value.
Access control through a standard card reader system is a weakness particularly at a time when risk of corporate theft, malicious damage to staff and property and terrorism has increased.
The need for a more secure system incorporating biometric devices to authenticate identity and manage the process is becoming a standard requirement for new systems in high security areas.