The use of biometric data has great potential in IT, but comes with potential downsides

Biometric data has been in use for quite some time to help identify individuals. However, as of late, it is getting much more press as companies utilize new forms of recognition technology in smartphones and other devices. While many applaud the convenience of unlocking a phone or tablet with a fingerprint or a face, with these technological innovations comes the possibility of biometric hacking.

Apple in particular recently released the iPhone X, which features facial recognition technology that enables access. Though the tech is not perfect, it is obviously a step up from the fingerprint scanner technology that has been used in the past several generations of iPhones.

Aside from smartphones and other mobile devices, companies have also been using biometric data for tasks such as validating movement through facilities. As is the case with many innovations, it’s important to understand the potential security issues that arise when utilizing emerging technologies.

What are some of the risks of biometric data?

Below are just a few of the risks that are associated with using biometric data:

Where’s the data?

One of the concerns surrounding biometric hacking is where does the physical biometric data reside? Think about the value of a database full of fingerprints, images of faces, or other personal identifiable information. To prevent biometric hacking, significant resources need to be aimed at not only the emerging technologies themselves, but protecting the data that’s being stored as well.

Technology is advancing at rapid pace

One of the current problems with basic surveillance systems is that while they can record high quality video, they often can’t identify subjects within the video. However, if facial recognition technology is introduced into these systems, law enforcement agencies as well as anyone who could gain access to this data would have the ability to detect an individual in a crowd and follow them as long as they were being surveilled. This could create significant privacy issues, especially in large cities like New York, where a network of 3,000 surveillance cameras are situated around the city. While this level of face-in-a-crowd detection isn’t available quite yet, researchers at organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Optical Surveillance System (BOSS) are rapidly advancing these capabilities.

Your iris is your only iris

When it comes to identity theft, unfortunately we’ve all grown accustomed to changing our bank account numbers or credit card numbers due to some type of data breach. While this is an inconvenience, it’s still possible to do it. Think about the possibility of iris scans being stolen from some type of government or privately-owned database. While it’s possible to change a credit card number, it’s not possible to change your eyes (yet).

Current laws aren’t properly prepared to deal with these issues

Unfortunately, current law is rather thin when it comes to biometric data. It has not been definitely determined whether law enforcement can collect biometric data without prior consent – though some have ruled that police can use your finger to unlock an iPhone – and nothing has been said in case law about more complicated technologies such as facial recognition.

Biometric data will likely be a hot topic among legislators for many years to come as local and federal governments push to utilize more of this data. While there’s no doubt that this type of technology can be used for good, it can also create issue if it’s compromised by the wrong individuals.

At Network Computer Pros, we stay abreast of all developments in information technology, including the ones that come with great promise and risks. If you’re looking for managed IT services for your business, including deploying security measures that protect your network’s sensitive data, feel free to give our team a call at 954-880-0388 or reach out via our online contact form.