Biometric security used to be a thing of science fiction back in the day. Nowadays, it is so common that you can find it on nearly every smartphone device. From voice recognition to face and fingerprint ID, biometric features are used to lock devices and access apps and online accounts. The question is: how secure are these features and can fully rely on them?
What Are Biometrics and Their Role in Cybersecurity
Most simply put, biometric technology is a type of identification technology used to authenticate users based on their real physical characteristics such as their face, eyes, or fingerprints. This is a fast-growing market expected to reach over $32 billion by the year 2022. Besides online security, biometrics are used in other fields such as law enforcement where this technology can help recognize and detect potential criminals.
There is no doubt that biometric identification technology brings many benefits to the table. These include faster authentication, less database memory consumption, as well as the advantages of a less traditional security setup compared to regular passwords. It is much easier and faster to unlock a device by using your fingerprint rather than typing in your password. However, is this convenience really worth it when you consider the potential security risks tied to using biometrics?
The Potential Risks of Biometrics in Cybersecurity
While biometrics seem like a great security solution, to begin with, these systems are nowhere near bulletproof. In fact, biometrics could even be more hackable than traditional passwords, and here’s why:
#1 Biometrics Are Public
Think about it, your biometric features such as your eyes, ears, face, or fingerprints are exposed to the public eye every single day. There are probably dozens if not even hundreds of your photos available online. Each of these photos can be used to recreate the biometric key to your accounts or devices. Passwords, on the other hand, are way more private since you are the only person who knows them (assuming that you don’t make the mistake of writing down your login credentials). Even your voice can easily be recorded in public and thus used to trick the biometric security system.
#2 Easy to Hack
Given how easy it is to access photos and records of people’s biometric features, these security systems are very easy to hack. Once the hacker has your picture, all they have to do is use the right software to reconstruct the features they need to unlock the system. This is far easier than hacking a password or even putting effort into phishing scams to uncover personal information.
#3 More Consequences to Worry About
If someone steals your Facebook password, all they can do with it is access your Facebook account (assuming that you don’t use the same password for all your accounts). However, if someone gets their hands on your biometrics, they can use them to falsify legal documents or access your bank accounts. In that sense, your biometrics are much more valuable than a simple Facebook password and thus they raise a lot of risk in terms of online safety.
Overall, biometrics is a relatively modern and convenient solution for device security. However, one should not rely solely on biometrics for all their online security systems. We recommend mixing things up a bit with passwords and two-factor authentication to throw hackers off the track.