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Austin security company, UT partner to protect personal info

With data breaches on the rise, a partnership in Austin is looking at the best ways to secure personal information. The technology could make physical credit cards and driver's licenses a thing of the past. (CBS Austin)

With data breaches on the rise, a partnership in Austin is looking at the best ways to secure personal information. The technology could make physical credit cards and driver's licenses a thing of the past.

At security company, Gemalto, they're taking driver's licenses digital.

"I open my app on my phone. I use my fingerprint to unlock the driver's license," demonstrates Gemalto Digital Driver's License Program Project Director Mridul Sharma.

However, what you see on the phone screen is really just for show. Prove your identity to police or your age in a liquor store with the scan of a QR Code. Sharma explains, the person on the other end only gets the info they need. Your date of birth, address and driver's license number stays private

"From the user's point of view, I get more control over my information," says Sharma.

It's the same technology you might see on a digital boarding pass at the airport. Digital driver's licenses are being tested in five states and now Gemalto is partnering with the University of Texas to further their research --- the focus is on biometrics.

"Everything from facial recognition to your fingerprints to the scan of your iris," says UT Center for Identity Director Suzanne Barber.

Barber says the point is to keep things simple. "If there's a conflict between security and convenience ... guess what always wins? Convenience. We're so busy," she explains.

Making security more convenient means accessing bank accounts without passwords and workplaces without keycards.

"How could we make those pieces of information or those credentials that you have easier to possess ... easier to present but more secure?" asks Barber. That's one of the points of research UTCID and Gemalto will be focusing on.

Barber says there's high demand for people educated in these technologies and UT's center is helping meet the need for governments and corporations who use peoples' identities but also need to protect them.

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