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Is Biometrics a Good Idea for Protecting your Identity?

Is Biometrics a Good Idea for Protecting your Identity?


Biometrics may seem more secure than passwords because they can’t easily be lost, compromised, or forgotten. The use of biometrics, which identifies people through unique characteristics or behaviors, is a steadily growing cybersecurity trend. The market is expected to exceed $32 billion dollars by 2022. Many view biometrics as a replacement for passwords but some cybersecurity experts caution businesses to carefully consider the risks of each approach to identification when updating security systems. Individuals may face similar decisions. Biometrics is most often used as a secondary source of authentication with face scans and voice recognition used in combination with traditional passwords and pins. Many organizations, including banks, that have introduced biometrics as a security option also offer the alternative, more traditional approaches for authentication. There are several types of biometric technologies. These include:

  • Heartbeat scanning
  • Hand geometry
  • Iris recognition
  • Palm vein mapping
  • Voice recognition
  • Keystroke recognition
  • Cybersecurity Concerns

    There are several inherent security concerns with the increased adoption of biometrics. Unlike passwords, it’s virtually impossible to keep physical characteristics secret or entirely private. A lifted fingerprint or secretly recorded voice could be used to steal someone’s identity and access their bank accounts. Hackers have already begun manipulating high-resolution photographs and even constructing detailed masks to override these once thought impenetrable systems.

    Once biometric-based authentication is replicated, it can’t easily be changed or replaced like a compromised password. Even if individual users take precautions, the growing number of services utilizing biometrics increase the risks of compromise. One poorly protected system could leak biometric identifying information, which is invaluable and can never be replaced.

    Biometrics Aren’t for Everyone

    In addition to cybersecurity concerns, early adopters of biometric systems have encountered an additional challenge: Biometrics arenTheseor everyone. This highly technical identification approaches rely on a relatively restricted range of identifying features. Some individuals have uniquely colored eyes, are missing fingers, or don’t use their voice to communicate. There will always be outliers and a system must adjust to accommodate all users. Reliability is also an issue. Different lighting can affect face scans. A stuffy nose can change the way our voice sounds. Biometric systems often fall back on traditional passwords when their systems fail. If this pattern continues, biometrics may simply be a more convenient and novel gateway to systems.

    Benefits of Biometrics

    There are definitely reasons for concerns related to biometrics. There are also several benefits. Biometric authentication can be faster and easier for users. Even children could securely enter or operate a device with their unique identity. Biometrics also requires less database memory and the burden is no longer on users to devise and remember long, complex passwords. Biometrics certainly offers some unique boosts to cybersecurity and consumer ease. Carefully considering the risks alongside the potential gains will allow business leaders and individuals the opportunity to decide whether biometrics is the best fit for identity protection.

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