With biometric, you are the password. Each person’s unique biometric identity such as a fingerprint, facial features or retina, can be used to replace traditional passwords for computers, phones, building access, passport security and much more.
If you have one of the latest iPhones, you will have experienced this technology when using your fingerprint or face to unlock the device. If you have a chipped passport, you might have used the digital passport security available to reduce queue time. Both of these examples show how biometrics are playing a growing role in today’s society.
The Brussels Times reported that new identity cards including the holders’ fingerprints will begin being issued by all Belgian municipalities by the end of the year. However, the announcement has uncovered critics and research groups hitting out at the decision.
As much as biometric technology is beneficial, it does have its flaws.
- Biometrics offer a much better user experience. It is much faster to unlock devices, it takes seconds rather than typing in long passwords with multiple special characters.
- It eradicates the frustration of forgetting a password and having to reset.
- There is no longer a need for a log book to track who is in a building at a certain time.
- ID cards are no longer needed, so there is no annoyance of forgetting or having to carry one around.
- Passwords, PINs and personal identifying questions such as a mother’s maiden name are at a threat of data breach, risking access by fraudsters who retain the answers – biometric authentication is a road-block to this.
- Biometrics, like face patterns, fingerprints, iris scanning, and others are much more difficult to replicate with current technology.
- Removes the danger of ‘shoulder surfing’ criminal attacks
- Biometrics are non-transferable giving businesses greater control over access. For example, ID cards granting access to enter a building or an entry code for a gym is easy to share, however when using biometrics, this cannot be done.
- Considerable upfront cost to install and get the system set up.
- Storing and maintaining the biometrics data requires further security measures.
- Integrating biometrics into a program can be relatively complex when compared to the deployment of password-based solutions.
- Increased security is needed as unlike a password or pin, biometrics cannot be changed so if someone gets hold of this information, they have it for life.
- Difficult to stay ahead of fraud advancements to ensure no data breach can be made.
- Tech errors blocking access makes it difficult if a backup password isn’t available. Even worse, tech errors allowing access could grant access to a fraudster easily.
- Easy for people to force access when stealing, for example holding a phone in front of someone’s face to gain access rather than needing a written password.
- Biometrics risk leaving a permanent digital record which threatens potential tracking by government authorities. The data can become a digital tag that can be used to identify and track individuals for their lifetime.
Biometric security solutions are definitely becoming more advanced and prevalent, however, the threats cannot be ignored and need to be greatly considered as this method becomes more commonly adopted.