Passwords: What happens when facial recognition and fingerprints get stolen and hacked?

The use of passwords to protect our information from cybercriminals is a system that is becoming outdated and does not offer sufficient protection. People are predictable and inevitably rely on simple words when we are asked to conform to password rules. As advanced technology is now part of our everyday lives, we are becoming much more willing to provide personal information to have a faster and easier interactive experience.

So what are the alternatives and are they safe?

Is Biometric Technology The Solution?

Biometric recognition as a method of proving our identity has impacted by helping to get rid of the necessity of personal passwords, PINs and ID cards. The technology identifies people based on biological traits, such as retina and iris-patterns, fingerprints or full facial recognition. It makes life easier in many ways, not least that you don't have to carry cards around or risk the frustration of being denied access due to lack of verification documents.

Biometric technologies have quickly been adopted by multiple large companies. Standard Chartered Bank, for instance, has implemented biometric logins to speed up services for its mobile banking app. Many airports now use facial recognition to verify passport identity. However, the technology producers have sometimes minimised the security requirements, which are critical for this sensitive personal information. So will this eventually compromise the technology?


Driving The Growth Of Biometric ID

Biometric identification, particularly face and fingerprint, has gained worldwide popularity with several major factors driving its current growth.

Companies utilising biometric identification for use with door security, access and employee attendance.

Manufacturers and software developers integrating biometrics with accessibility on computers and mobile devices.

Countries worldwide exploring establishing the biometric identities of their citizens for voter registration, national ID cards or e-passport schemes.

Can Biometrics Be Hacked?

The first generation of biometric data was susceptible to security breaches.

Fingerprint recognition, or Touch ID, was a revolutionary process when Apple’s iPhone 5S was released. However, it only took hackers a few days to come up with a simple solution. They took a photograph of a fingerprint from the glass on the phone, copied it to a transparent sheet, and successfully unlocked the phone. Today, Apple executives say the chance of hacking their newest model, iPhone X, which uses Face ID is about 1 in 1,000,000.

Biometrics technology is continually improving and developing, especially in the area of security. While it is possible to hack any kind of data, biometrics is an ideal complement for two-factor authentication alongside a normal password. Apple’s newly announced credit card, for instance, has an innovative security feature which will make fraud much more difficult. It pairs a one-time unique dynamic security code with a biometric fingerprint or facial recognition for a whole new security level.

The second-generation of biometric identification will be even more secure, and the development of pulse and vein recognition, in particular, will mean it is almost impossible to manipulate the information.

Top Advantages Of Biometric Technology

Biometric technology is extremely useful for ID verification as the systems can identify individuals consistently and quickly. It is also highly accurate as it uses the unique traits, such as iris patterns, fingerprints or the facial characteristics of each individual.

Biometric characteristics are extremely difficult to replicate or steal, meaning they present much higher security levels than normal authentication means.

The physical elements used by biometric identification are less subject to sudden changes or damage.

Biometric technology is a dependable and user-friendly method, is inexpensive to introduce, and requires little training to implement.

Internet-based businesses or secure mobile transactions is an ideal application, as biometrics can also be utilised to prevent unauthorized access to smart cards, cellular phones, PCs and even computer networks.

PIN numbers and passwords can be forgotten easily, used across multiple accounts or written down. This makes it easy to steal and hack them.

Stolen Biometrics, Stolen Identity?

Unlike our passwords, our biometrics identify us, which means cybercriminals are a genuine concern. Fingerprint systems have been breached in the past, resulting in the theft of entire employee databases and there is also a timely warning that suggests AI generated fingerprints threaten these systems. Elaborate hacking efforts will always exist, but equally, there are countermeasures that can effectively thwart attacks.

While having your fingerprints or facial recognition stolen is inconvenient, it does not mean that your identity is compromised. With biometrics and the right encryption technology, acquiring your personal data is extremely difficult. Even if hackers do manage to obtain a copy, using it for criminal purposes, fraud, or to launch an attack is even harder to accomplish.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

When you scan your face or fingerprint, a set of mathematical functions then transform and encrypt the template data. This is a non-reversible process, meaning the template data cannot then be reproduced into your original scan. Of course, you still need to ensure that you have a cyber safety package for your computer or mobile. This will help you to protect your online security against ransomware, viruses and cybercriminals.

So Are We Ready For Biometrics?

Biometrics technology is here to stay and opens up a world of possibilities. As is the case with any new technology, it has both advantages and disadvantages, but using biometric identification is proven to be more secure and beneficial than traditional methods. As it develops and more systems are deployed, advancements in security measures will decrease any current disadvantages.

However, before we utilise biometrics for all our security needs, from locking our mobile devices to our homes, we need to establish hacker-proof layers of advanced protection for our biometrics data. So, it seems that your trusty passwords are not about to be made obsolete just yet!