Mobile Computing Wave Part 3: Three Key Security Features of Mobile Commerce

21 | By Michael A. Robinson

Imagine checking in at the airport, buying a cup of coffee at a local café, even paying for your clothes or groceries at the store’s register… all with a quick wireless scan of your smartphone.

It’s all possible today, thanks to a new type of tech called Near Field Communications (NFC).

No coins to fumble with. No waiting while the store’s machine dials up your bank. No receipts to sign or stuff into your pocket. The spread of NFC technology is a win-win for the customer and the merchant alike.

With NFC, your phone becomes your wallet. It’s able to “talk” to any vendor, bank, brokerage, or credit card firm you like. This technology is set to take the world by storm. In as little as a decade, billions of people around the world will convert to digital currency as their means of paying for the things they need every day.

There’s just one thing slowing it all down right now – mobile security.

Using mobile phones as de facto wallets alarms some people. They fear that if your phone gets stolen, thieves could gain access to every bank, brokerage, or store account you have.

But that’s about to change.

Indeed, much to the chagrin of thieves and con artists, mobile security will hasten the advent of bulletproof digital money used around the world.

I had the chance to talk about this with Michael Saylor, author of the best-selling new book “Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything.” Saylor, who also serves as CEO of MicroStrategy Inc. (NASDAQgs:MSTR), told me alarmists are missing the big picture:

“I think the most important thing to be said about mobile security, and maybe mobile identity, is there are one million organizations in the world that have obsolete, ineffective identification systems now. Most of these things – passports, credit cards, driver’s license, even things we think are reasonably secure, aren’t. And many things aren’t secure at all.“I think that it’s now possible to create a mobile identity system that runs on a smartphone which is anywhere from 100 times to 10,000 times as secure. Not only are they more secure, it’s impossible to counterfeit and impossible to forge.”

In fact, there are three key security features Saylor believes will make mobile commerce the standard of safe business transactions in just a few years.

Take a look…

Mobile Security Feature No. 1: Fingerprint Scanning

Fingerprint tech is a standard security feature around the world. It works because no two people – not even identical twins – have the same fingerprints.

Believe it or not, fingerprinting is actually pretty old. It began in eighth-century Japan. But this ancient approach to security is about to get a big upgrade.

Since many smartphones have touch-sensitive screens, by definition, they work with your fingertips.

All we need to do is convert that screen into a scanner that takes the place of a password. That way, it only works for you. If you lose your phone or someone steals it, the device goes dead.

That’s probably why Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) just spent $356 million to buy AuthenTec, a mobile network security firm. The journal ZDNet says AuthenTec’s sensors are the state of the art in touch-based security.

“These fingerprint swipe sensors use a patented sub-surface technology to read the live layer of skin beneath the skin’s surface where the fingerprint is first formed,” according to the author of the ZDNet article. This makes them “much harder to fool than traditional fingerprint sensors.”

Many tech experts believe this acquisition signals that Apple will soon employ fingerprint scans in both the iPhone and the iPad.

Mobile Security Feature No. 2: Eye Scans

The public already has a good sense of how this works. We saw it featured in the popular Bond film “GoldenEye” from 1995 and the first “Mission: Impossible” that came out a year later, as well as 2002’s “Minority Report.” In that film, Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton undergoes a back-alley eye transplant operation to evade the ever present eye scanners of the authorities.

Right now we have two main ways to scan the eyes.

The first is to focus on the retina, the round tissue in the back of your eye that contains a “screen” of cells that respond to light. That annoying “red eye” effect you see in bad photos is actually the camera capturing the retina when the bright flash goes off too fast for the pupil to close.

Saylor notes that the retina serves to “pre-process images,” adding that scientists actually consider it a part of the brain.

Scanning the retina works to establish identity because it has a pattern of blood vessels unique to each person.

The second way we have of establishing identity via the eye is the iris – the colored ring around the pupil. It’s a jumble of patterns. See, no two are alike. Even the iris in your right eye differs from the one in your right.

“The New York Police Department uses iris scans when booking suspects,” said Saylor. “The city of Leon, Mexico, deploys iris scanners in crowded public spaces, where they can identify up to 50 people at once.”

Mobile Security Feature No. 3: Voice Recognition

Most investors already know about voice recognition. They’ve seen it for decades in TV shows like the original “Star Trek” and in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

In 2012, speech recognition tech has quickly been gaining ground. Apple uses it as a digital voice assistant named Siri that’s in the most recent version of the iPhone. So millions of people already have a sense that voice tech is the wave of the future.

But Saylor rightly draws a sharp contrast between speech and voice recognition. The latter is based on the fact that each person’s voice is distinct.

“Voice recognition doesn’t try to figure out what you say,” Saylor explained, “it tries to determine if the voice is actually yours. The software to identify your voice exists and would be an easy addition to the array of identity techniques available to mobile devices.”

As I see it, these features and other that might appear later can greatly increase both business and personal security. And there’s no reason why you can’t blend several of them together – say, an eye scan with voice recognition – to provide deeper safeguards.

In the future, you’ll have all sorts of biometric security features that will protect your assets and your identity. All of them can both protect corporate assets and empower the individual.

Finally, these same features could also exist inside your PC or even in different rooms within your home to give you a total security package.

We’re not far from the day when ordinary folks will be able to defeat even the smartest hacker around, just by touching or looking into their phone’s screen.

And it’s all because the world is going mobile.

21 Responses to Mobile Computing Wave Part 3: Three Key Security Features of Mobile Commerce

  1. Jolanta Barbara Zbieg says:

    I have seen and experience 3 above screens.
    I hope this will make a lot of money for some individuals

  2. Ram says:

    Lets take the most simple and common case of robbery.

    A couple of men accost you and act friendly with you. Look a little closer and while he’s putting his arms around you like a long lost friend, there is a knife pressed against your tummy.

    They then walk with you into an empty alley. Then the fun starts …

    They force you to use your finger, eye and voice to transfer all your money to their account wih FULL SAFETY AND SECURITY! 🙂

    Now, how do you propose to beat that?! This actually happened to a friend of mine recently though luckily he only lost his watch, un-smart mobile phone and cash! Imagine what would have happened if he had a SMART phone with all the wonderful access to his millions in the bank.

    At least in the old days, you could say the check book is at home or some such excuse and get away with only the money in your pocket being lost.

    With cards and the new (10000 times MOST SECURE Mobile) they can take ALL your money!!! To your excuse that we can put limits to the transaction amount, all they have to do is hold you for a few days and milk you dry!

    In our awe of every new technology coming our way, sometimes we seem to lose our common sense and reject simple but effective old solutions.


  3. Louise Cave says:

    While it sounds so technologically up-beat, and buyers will gobble up the stock in these companies, it’s also so state-of-the-art that it scares old-timers like me! And isn’t it, in a manner of speaking, just one more step toward a numerological depersonalization of individuals? The need for security is real, but aren’t we becoming a series of numbers and passwords situated in some nebulous cyberspace?

  4. Finis says:

    Security is the ultimate issue to mobile transactions. ID theft and fraud are the problems to solve. Biometrics are carried with us all and multiple use will eliminate ID theft and authenticate/authorize requests for transactions.
    NFC is being promoted by chip companies and reader companies as the future interface via smart phones and tablets. But this won’t replace smartcard platform. No matter what you have stored on iPhone, I’ll never leave my cards at home. I’ve forgotten, dropped, lost in taxi and forgot to charge my battery of my iPhone….but still could buy Starbucks coffee with my smart card…
    NFC is what is seen as the future by many ….it will take years to become the standard if ever and is expensive.
    Bluetooth is ALREADY integrated in ALL mobile devices and easier to use with all devices.

  5. Charles Murton says:

    I really love your articles, the simplicity of your explanations and your recognition of the progress and development of intricate components that will change the world, improving health, education and the lifestyles of everybody. Yes indeed the US lead the world in technology innovation with extremely bright and capable creators, but, these companies driven by greed and profit, notwithstanding that 27 million Americans are unemployed, the government printing trillions of US $ trying to buy themselves out of debt with money they do not have, education, healthcare and survival reaching critical proportions send their inventions to China to be mass produced, copied, duplicated and improved for distribution throughout the world building the Chinese economy and people skills and providing jobs for the Chinese to the detriment of their own back in USA, very soon the American people will not be able to afford to purchase these high tech commodities created by their own whiz kids.
    When will America wake up, start producing things at home providing training and employment for its own people and rebuilding themselves as a nation? Instead of asking God to Bless America, Americans must start blessing themselves. What is the point of making dollars the value of which is being constantly destroyed by the government? In investing in the stock of these high tech companies is it not tantamount to investing in their own demise?
    The Era of radical change is what all Americans need to embrace before it is too late, economies are driven and built by people not technical inventions.

  6. Gordan Finch says:

    Good article,

    But what happens when someone has a gun to your head and quitely says draw out some cash please.

    Do you argue with the drug induced maniac. Or will the technology beat the crap out of the moron.

    You have no means to complain when you are dead with a bullet in the head, while the killer uses your finger print, eye recognition. etc.

    Don’t think so, there is no such thing as foolproof security and what happens when the battery goes flat.

    Time for a rethink Apple.


  7. Anonymole says:

    Mr. Robinson,

    NFC is just more of the same. It retains the old mechanism of consumer to merchant ID transfer for payment. Although NFC looks to be a great means of intentional information transfer, we must forgo sending OUR information to THEM. A payment system that I’ve been advocating is what I call the Credit Cloud.

    Imagine this:

    I go to a restaurant, order and eat.

    The server presents to me my bill. It’s either a QR code printed on the check containing all the info necessary to charge my credit card, or the server presents the restaurant/merchant’s point of sale system in a tablet or smartphone of their own – a device with NFC send capability.

    I either scan the QR code with my smartphone’s payment app or tap my phone to the merchant’s to receive the transaction ID through NFC. The QR or NFC communication packet code contains the link to the transaction request the restaurant sent up to their merchant account. That’s the trick. The merchant first sends up a request for payment into the Credit Cloud. Using the transaction ID I receive from the server I can then connect and approve the funds transfer.

    So next my payment system opens up a transaction window connected to ( my bank or Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, GooglePayments, what have you). This payment app on my phone facilitates the linkage between my payment and the restaurant’s receipt – through the existing credit card banking system.

    I tap in a tip for the server, hit “Validate Payment” on the form that’s presented on my phone.

    Transaction done.

    At no point have I shared a personal thing with the restaurant. I’m completely anonymous. Just like cash. All they know is the transaction request was approved by their bank and I’m good to go.

    The core concept is that I do NOT send my information to the merchant. They send ME the transaction information which I use to complete the sale – in the Credit Cloud.

    Such a system would completely protect consumers from ID theft. No information is transferred to the merchant. The consumer and the merchant will meet in the Credit Cloud where the transaction is consummated. The Credit Cloud, implemented something like Paypal, represents an exchange where two parties are connected to transact financial transfers.

    ID-less payment through the Credit Cloud.

    • Norman says:

      Something similar to this has been done in Europe for years.

      You ask for your check and the server brings it along with the point of sale machine.

      He enters the check amount, swipes the card in front of you and returns it to you.

      The POS machine now connects to the credit card processor.

      You have the option of adding a tip if you wish. You then enter your PIN number, obviously hiding it from the server. You then hand the machine back to him.

      The machine confirms this PIN number is valid, prints your receipt and the server gives it to you.

      You do not sign anything.

  8. allan says:

    every gate, border, barrier, cyber code, smart card etc man has devised has been breached. smart tech will be the same. i see this just like any item of software. press a button it begins working, but when there is a glitch someone is able to ‘get at it’ to fix it. if this system doesnt have a ‘doorway’ to fix a glitch it will be unusable – if it does, someone will get ‘in’ & rob you!!!!!

    use it and hope for the best!

  9. George says:

    he/they take you into the alley, take your “card”, cut off your hand, remove your eyeball, etc.
    P.S. How do I conduct my life in confidence?
    Who wants to “know” what I am doing in my life?
    As anyone read the Constitution?
    Try it!
    Don’t fall for it, friend!
    Sounds like Uncle Sugar wants to “keep” us (as a herd of animals) and then will truly OWN us!
    Remember, you probably didn’t learn in the 4th grade that WE own the government, NOT the other way around. (Unless you ALLOW the Government to OWN YOU!)
    PPS Sounds like they want you to BUY more “stuff”!
    NOT I!!

  10. baden says:

    A mobile security software called Appsec 0416357353 that embeds with the IME number of the mobile phone .has no third party involved only the owner of the phone and the phone
    A 4 digit pin and one word commands to sms your stolen or missing phone from another phone without the software
    1. If lost or stolen PIN and one word command can wipe the phone to factory settings
    2. Retrieve all contacts in blocks silently to a phone without the software
    3. the software is only 50 MB so battery power is not compromised
    4. Use GPS from a phone without the software to find your phone in seconds
    5. If the mic is activated by an external source the phone will mask the open mic with white sound for the hacker to hear nothing and an audible sound for the user and will lock the phone after a timer set by the user Simply unlock the phone using the pin and continue normally until hacked again
    5. If a GPS signal is detected no signal will respond from the users phone therefore guaranteeing privacy
    6,if a hack is detected where an APP is given an instruction to mine your information the phone will warn you and lock that is an APP activating in the phone to send out information or alternate signal coming in to instruct the APP
    7.Screenlock works when the SIM is removed or battery always use your PIN to remove SIM or Battery
    8. You can remotely LOCK and UNLOCK screenlock
    9. The GPS switched off to save battery automatically activates when the PIN and COMMAND is sent to locate the phone when missing or stolen

  11. Neil Morrison says:

    Rams comments re the alley way and the thieves stealing all you money.Well Ram all that needs to be done is incorporate a panic alarm in the phone reaching every cop station in the US and giving your location.Or alternatively a built in crash system so no one even the owner can get in to his phone without pre set arrangements with his operator,come on Ram the days of highway robbery can easily be outsmarted with the systems now available.

    • DeuceGlide says:

      So you’re pulled into the alley by thugs that want all your money! Think about this now, your phone isn’t going to just spit out cash so they can take the money and run. It will have to be a transfer to their account or phone. So now you have their identity and the authorities can lock their account and the go arrest them.

  12. DeuceGlide says:

    Better yet, pull out your concealed handgun and shoot the sob . Oh, I forget, you can’t because you live in Illinois where it’s illegal to carry a weapon! You’re SOL!

  13. ron blake says:

    Hi Michael

    Thanks for the info. Only I know this was coming for over the last 20 years.

    Just took the tech. a while to really get it made the right way to work.

    But the whole deal is welcome to the TOTAL DEMISE OF INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM.

    Forget about having any of your life being done in confidence.

    Who gives a damn if the Smartphone is hack proof when greedy companies and the Government clowns use it to milk the sheeple of their money and to control and own us completely.

    They (who ever) will know where you are at, at all times.

    Because think about it. You, your self are never more than 1 to 5 ft from your smartphone.

    We’ll be fighting for our freedom just like we did a long time ago against England before to long.

    That’s why the Government agencys (about 5 of them) have bought over 1 billion rounds of hollow-point ammo. Guess who they plan on shooting?

    Any way I do really like reading your web site.

    Ron Blake

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *