Increase Security On Your Google Account

After reading the article Hacked! in The Atlantic (November 2011), I looked into Google’s new security feature called 2-Step Verification(a.k.a. Two Factor Authentication).

This new extra layer of security–adding “something you have” to “something you know”–to your sign in credentials helps to better protect you and your information in Google (i.e. in the Google cloud), including your emails, documents, and applications.

While a little extra work to login to Google–you have to type in a verification code that Google sends or calls to your phone (this is the something you have), it provides an extra layer of defense against hackers, criminals, and identity thieves.

To protect your Smartphone, Google provides “Application-specific passwords” that you generate from the 2-Step Verification screen and then you enter those into the specific iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry device.

You can sign up for 2-Step Verification from your Google Account Settings page and help protect yourself, your information, and your privacy.

In the future, I hope that Google (and other cloud vendors) will improve on this and use biometrics, to add “something you are,” to the authentication process and make this even sleeker and more secure yet.

Stay safe out there!  😉

Armored Skin

Bodyguard
(Source Photo: CrunchGear)
Not just for super heroes in comic books anymore, ArmStar has invented a new non-lethal weapon called the BodyGuard.  
It was invented by David Brown, a cameraman, editor, and producer, and supposed friend of Kevin Costner.
The idea of the encased ballistic nylon arm glove is that if you are wearing the weapon, you won’t drop it or easily be disarmed by your opponent. 
According to CrunchGear (31 May 2011), “The BodyGuard is an armored gauntlet with a 500,000-volt stunner protruding from the back of the hand, with room for any number of other weapons of self defense.”
Aside from the stun gun, current prototypes come equipped with video camera, laser pointer, and flashlight; and future versions are envisioned to have chemical sensors, GPS, biometric readers, translators, and more. 
I would imagine, you could also install things like mace or smoke that can be dispensed into action at the push of a button (with safety). 
This is why the BodyGuard is seen not only as a weapon, but also as a weapons platform, with an actuator pressure pad in the palm of the hand controlling the release of the weapons. 
The menacing display of voltage between the electrodes on the wrist, the green laser target on one’s chest, as well as knowing that you may be videotaped (along with the possibility of other embedded weapons) can make the BodyGuard a useful tool for law enforcement to help prevent and defuse confrontations, deter criminals, and save lives.  
The BodyGuard won a Popular Science 2011 Invention Award and according to their magazine “the first demo unit will be released to the Los Angeles sheriff’s department later this year.”
While I think the non-lethal version is promising for law enforcement, a lethal version for our military seems like a another market and next step in delivering ergonomic and flexible battle gear to our war fighters. 
I think there is also potential here for non-weaponized versions, for commercial and personal use–where ever and whenever body protection and quick access to tools and gadgets are needed–construction, manufacturing, even mountain climbing!
Finally, while having this is nice on one arm, I think this could be expanded for modules for both arms, legs, and so forth. 
This has a lot of potential, and I wish I had one of these when riding the IRT subway late in the evenings in NYC as a kid…it would have been nice to hit the pressure button and watch the volts arc and the bad guys just run the other way. 

>You Can Run From MORIS, But You Can’t Hide

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There is a promising new mobile biometric recognition device for law enforcement called the MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System) by Biometric Identification and Intelligence Technologies.
MORIS units are a 2.5 ounce hardware attachment and software app for the iPhone that cost about $3000 each and turns the device into a crime-fighting tool.

The devices are able to take fingerprint, facial, and Iris identification and access criminal justice data wirelessly from anywhere using a common iPhone to match against existing criminal records.

Police are able to identify suspects on the fly in seconds.

Popular Science has named MORIS one of the BEST INNOVATIONS of 2010.

As of November 22, 2010, 25 Massachusetts Police Departments have been the lucky recipients of these futuristic crime fighting technology devices.

Say cheese! 🙂

>Advanced Biometrics for Law Enforcement

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Homeland Security Today Magazine (March 2010) has an interesting article called “Biometrics on the Battlefield” about how the American military has had significant success in Afghanistan taking biometrics and in using it for “vetting, tracking, and identification.”

Here’s how it’s done:

The biometrics system uses HIIDE (Handheld Interagency Identity Detection System) devices, which is “similar in size to a large camera, [that] connects directly to the BATS [Biometrics Automated Tool Set] database and matches inputs against a biometrics watch list of 10,000 individuals.”

The database “BATS uses a combination of fingerprints, photographs and iris scans, in addition to an in-depth background examination” to “screen potential local employees, identify detainees, and differentiate friendly individuals from insurgents and terrorists.”

How successful has the use of biometrics been?

“The use of biometrics has clearly thwarted security breaches and helped prevent unwanted activities by the enemy. Additionally, in 2008 alone, hundreds of HVTs (high value targets) were identified through the use of this biometrics technology.”

The article suggests the application of this biometric system for domestic law enforcement use.

Currently, fingerprint cards or stationary scanners are common, but with the proposed military biometrics system, there is the technology potential to use mobile scanning devices quickly and easily in the field.

The article gives the example: “if an officer came into contact with an individual under suspect conditions, a simple scan of the iris would ascertain that person’s status as a convicted felon, convicted violent felon, convicted sex offender or someone on whom an alert has been placed.”

In this scenario, quicker and more accurate identification of suspects could not only aid in dealing with dangerous offenders and benefit the officers in terms of their personal safety, but also contribute to ensuring community safety and security through enhanced enforcement capabilities.

Of course, using such a system for law enforcement would have to pass legal muster including applicable privacy concerns, but as the author, Godfrey Garner, a retired special forces officer, states “hopefully, this valuable technology will be recognized and properly utilized to protect law enforcement officer in the United States. I know that I’ve seen it protect our sons and daughters on the battlefields of Afghanistan.”

We are living in an amazing time of technology advances, and the potential to save lives and increase public safety and security through lawful use of biometrics is a hopeful advancement for all.

>Biometrics and Enterprise Architecture

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Biometrics is “the study of methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits.” (Wikipedia)

Biometrics is crucial for identifying and taking out of play enemy combatants, terrorists, and criminals or for providing access to trusted employees or partners in public or private sector organizations, like the intelligence community, defense, security, and various sensitive industries like financial, telecommunications, transportation, energy, and so forth.

National Defense Magazine, November 2007 has an article on the significant advances being made in biometric technologies and their applications to our organizations.

According to “’The National Biometrics Challenge,’ a report produced by the Office of the President’s National Science and Technology Council…’a tipping point in the maturation of the technology has been reached.’

Both the FBI’s Information Services Division and The Department of Defense Biometric Fusion Center are leading the way in this field.

Currently, identity is established based on the trinity: “something you know (such as a password), something you have (like an identity card), or something you are, which is where biometrics comes in.”

Biometrics includes technologies for recognizing fingerprints, facial features, irises, veins, voices, and ears, and even gait.

But these are technologies identification means are not fool-proof: remembering multiple complex passwords can be dizzying and identity cards can be lost, stolen, or forged. So biometrics becomes the cornerstone for identity management.

However, even biometrics can be spoofed. For example, fake rubber fingers have been used in lieu of a real fingerprint (although now there are ways with living flesh sensors to protect against this). So therefore, biometrics is evolving toward “multi-modial” collection and authentication. This could involve using 10 fingerprints versus one or combing fingerprint, iris scans, and digital mugshots (called the “13 biometrics template” and used to gain access in U.S. managed detention centers in Iraq) or some other combination thereof.

Biometrics has advanced so much so that an Iris scan system from Sarnoff Corp. of Princeton NJ “can scan and process 20 people per minute from distances of about 10 feet awat, even those who are wearing glasses.”

The keys to further enterprise application of these technologies in our enterprises are the following:

  1. Lowering the cost (especially to make it available to local law enforcement agencies)
  2. Making it rugged enough for extreme environments for the military
  3. Making it portable so that it can be used for a variety of law enforcement and defense operations
  4. Reengineering business processes so that measurements are captured, stored, accessible, and readily available for making a match and generating a decision on someone’s identity in real-time
  5. Developing policies that “effectively govern the proper use of the data” and ensure adequate protection for civil liberties and privacy.

Overall, biometrics has moved from emerging technology to applied technology and needs to be planned into your identity management architectures.