MWC 2017 | Eye-opening security tech at Mobile World Congress

The latest security technology takes centre stage at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, where experts are trying to convince consumers that connectivity can come at a cost. Reuters’ Ivor Bennett reports

One of the more eye-catching technologies on display at Mobile World Congress. This smartphone iris scanner works by examining 240 unique features of a human eye.

“So if you just imagine how your eye reacts to light. So your pupil opens and closes. And your eye glazes over. You have specularities, you have water on your eyes, you have blood vessels in your eyes. So there are many many signals that allow us to get that sense that we have a real person there,” Jeff Cater, chief technology officer, Eyelock, saying.

A photo of an eye gets rejected. And its owner must be living and breathing. Iris scanners are considered more secure than fingerprint sensors. And both Apple and Samsung have hinted their next flagship devices will include them. The firm behind this technology says it’s safe enough for banking.

“In the next two years, every smartphone in the world is going to have a biometric on it. And we believe it’s going to have a combination of fingerprint and iris,” Carter, saying.

But to get the full phone experience, do consumers need to close there eyes to security risks? Location trackers, public wifi and bluetooth connections can come at a cost.

“When you’re on those access points, if they’re open, that means they’re open for everybody. So not only you to do your business, but everyone else who wants to join that access point and listen in,” John Shier, senior security expert, Sophos, saying.

Equipment to do that can be legally bought online. It can show who is where and when. And what they’re doing.

“So I’ve got some of their device IDs. I’ve got their location in space, where they were at the time. And so now I can start making a bit of a picture of you know who some of these people are, what device they’re carrying, and where they’re moving,” Shier, saying.

Targeted advertising works in the same way. But the message here is for users to beware – others could be targeting you too.