Mark of the Beast

In the collection of books known commonly as the Bible there is an apocalyptic sci-fi one┬ácalled “Revelation”, in which a commercial identity device known as “the Mark of the Beast” is necessary for day-to-day existence in buying and selling things. It is described as “being a mark on the hand or forehead”.

The experience of a new smartphone may just be that event.

I recently realised just how important these devices are becoming. My secondary bank (the one where I save up money out of sight from the prime one!) asked me to sign up to a new security device – either a little calculator-type thing with small keypad and locked to my account, or an app on my smartphone. I started down the route with my smartphone and realised when it asked me for yet another long and complicated password that I really didn’t need the ability to generate new direct payees whilst mobile, and it could all wait until I was in front of a better input device, for example my desktop computer at home. So I aborted and went down the ‘little keypad device’ instead of the app.

Now I have to transfer to a new smartphone, and one hour into it I have documented all the reload points for my enterprise services, downloaded all the *.apk files (Android installation files), deleted unnecessary apps, copied the SD card to another computer, and ready to ‘wipe and reset’ after removing the SIM card. It takes planning!

Android helps of course – Google has provided a cloud backup service which increasingly backs up all installed apps and which the app developers can take advantage to back up settings or files, however it is not seamless yet and still requires lots of re-registration and reloading. Enterprise apps are worse as they don’t participate in this Google cloud and all need entry of userids, company registration, and long difficult passwords to set them up. Often the user ids are different which means going back to the original emailed instructions – which may be years old – or finding the new ones in the morass of online information. None of this is easy … and woe betide anyone who gets the sequence of delete/de-register/install/register wrong.

With our devices becoming so critical for identification, identity, access and authentication I can see that building it into the body somehow with facilities to upgrade the core identity section as needed, will become more attractive over time. I just don’t see it happening yet.