Forget thumbprint unlock screens for phones and communications equipment. Tomorrow’s next-generation biometric identifiers are related to the data that soldiers create through their activity. That could include everything from the way that a soldier walks, to the way she holds her phone, to places that she’s been.
“In the future, we see that the systems you carry on you, developing information on you and taking information from you,” said Lynn. “Your walk is as individual as your thumbprint. Why is that important? Well, if you are in warfighting, oftentimes you wear gloves, oftentimes you wear masks…you can’t use a lot of the biometrics you would normally use. But your gait, your walk, that’s going to be there. We think that’s an important part of our future for identity.”
DISA will also authenticate identity based on patterns of life. Where you go says a lot about you, and your phone tracks it. Statistically speaking, a large enough dataset of locations and times is as strong an identity as many common physical features.
In 2013, MIT researchers Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye and César A. Hidalgo showed that with just four data points related to time and space, it’s possible to de-anonymize an individual cell phone user — in other words, to verify an identity.
“You go to your workplace; you go home; you notice your phone already registers those two places? Because it knows where you’re going. Those are patterns of life. Those are things that can be imported into the device,” said Lynn.
Of course, not all of these indicators are created equal. That’s why the future of biometric identification is based on combining multiple indicators to achieve a composite score, said Lynn. “When you start getting all of that data…your identity score goes up.” That will determine how much access you have to different portions of the network, he said.