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Biometrics Has a Privacy Problem

Biometrics Has a Privacy Problem

The inclusion of biometric security systems have been all the rage in a range of organizations, due, in large part, because of the thought that other security platforms aren’t nearly as secure. Unfortunately, the superior security they are expecting may not be able to meet their expectations. Today, we will discuss biometric security, where it fits, and how it can be problematic for the small business. 

Unfortunately, businesses have to deal with near-constant threats and need solutions that can protect the assets they have. Since every person’s biometric profile is unique, it stands to reason that using this information as a solid authorization method would improve security. The problem, however, is that by upsetting the security/privacy counterbalance individual privacy is often sacrificed for the sake of security.   

Business Using Biometrics

Biometric security platforms are now being deployed to protect the integrity of many different types of assets. Here is a brief list of the types of biometric security:

  • Fingerprint identification
  • Iris and retina scans
  • Facial recognition
  • Gait measurement
  • DNA
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Voice recognition
  • Brainwaves

...And more.

This is just a short list, there are many more. All of these options are used to effectively identify people and authenticate their identity for the purpose of gaining access to protected assets. A few years ago, these technologies were much more expensive and, truth be told, did a much better job at keeping unwanted entities out of a given space. Organizations like the People’s Republic of China (facial recognition), the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (fingerprint), and many, many private businesses have turned to biometrics. Ironically, the makeup of biometrics may be its downfall. 

The Illusion of Security

With so many organizations depending on these biometrics systems, it becomes extremely difficult to protect the individual’s privacy. In fact, these biometric security systems are truly only passable to determine identity. For smaller organizations, biometrics may work great as an authentication system; but, for larger organizations, the very real chance that extraordinary personal information is made available begs that the question be asked: can a system be a human identification system and also work as an authentication system? 

If the prospect of your facial features, your eyes, your fingerprints, and dozens of other very personal pieces of information that aren’t heavily protected, doesn’t scare you, they at the very least have to leave you considering alternatives. After all, losing this information to hackers is not anyone’s idea of ideal. Furthermore, most businesses that you interact with often have to be constantly trying--and often failing--to secure information are now battling artificial intelligence. These AI-fueled systems have proven to compromise biometric indicators, leaving these systems accessible to unauthorized users without physical authentication. 

A Complete Lack of Privacy

We mentioned this briefly above, but the egregious lack of privacy that some biometric-authentication systems have runs counter to any claim of comprehensive security. Of course, the biometrics-reliant system isn’t created with individual privacy in mind. They are created to protect assets without giving unauthorized people access to them. The problem with this technology is the same as it is with many other technologies: people develop solutions and they hit the market before they can be implemented correctly. A software bug inside a biometric security system is a major vulnerability to their ongoing privacy. 

Furthermore, people’s bodies change over time. On the surface this may not be a big issue, but if a person’s face changes, and a system uses facial recognition to authenticate, it stands to reason that the system would fail to authenticate; or, more worrisomely, the deviation is written into the program. Since they are supposed to be state-of-the-art security systems, it is sometimes difficult to conceive that some of the concepts we’ve been using (passwords, PINs, Two-factor authentication) are actually more secure than a powerful retina scanner.

Make no mistake about it, biometrics are here to stay, and will be a hugely useful security tool in the very near future, but before you spend big money on a biometrics security system, you will  want to consult with our experts. Our knowledgeable technicians are available by calling (702) 938-0365 today. 

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Sunday, July 12 2020

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