• Follow us

Technology

Is Biometrics ID Security Good Enough? | Cybersecurity

United Airlines this week announced that it would begin rolling out Clear's biometric prescreening at its hub airports, including Newark Liberty International and Houston George Bush Intercontinental. The system works by verifying a flier's fingerprints or eye scan.

Clear already is available at about 60 locations throughout the United States. It offers a system that utilizes biometrics to speed preapproved travelers to the front of the security lane, and even ahead of TSA Pre-Check fliers.

United Airlines joins Delta Airlines in offering the service to fliers -- and Clear's technology also is in use at participating stadiums and arenas that require an ID check for entry. However, Clear is just one of several companies to begin developing this the biometric screening technology, and airports already have been struggling with how do deal with competing but not compatible systems.

There now are at least 53 biometric systems used just by the aviation industry, and dozens more by other industries, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. Most don't see eye-to-eye, in that their respective databases aren't shared.

Getting all the competing systems to work together is just one of the challenges that biometric screening companies will have to deal with in the near future to make this technology universally embraced as an alternative for traditional identification.

History of Biometrics

It is easy to think of technology that can recognize a unique fingerprint instantly as being a modern marvel of the 21st century, but its roots actually go back to the end of the 19th century. Argentine anthropologist Juan Vucetich first cataloged fingerprints in 1891, and just two years later that helped Inspector Eduardo Alvarez identify Francisca Rojas as the actual killer of her two sons.

Then there is the story of Will and William West -- two men who were unrelated yet nearly identical in appearance. Each was serving a prison sentence at Leavenworth Penitentiary, but Will West was convicted of a minor crime, while William West already was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. The prison had almost no way of telling the men apart, but then turned to a new technology -- fingerprint identification.

French handwriting expert and early biometrics researcher Alphonse Bertillon already had created an identification system that included a "mug shot," along with detailed description of an inmate's facial features. Normally that system was enough to differentiate individuals from one another. However, given that the West men looked so similar, something else was needed.

As it happened, Bertillon also made a breakthrough in the advancement of dactyloscopy, which can analyze the patterns of fingerprints. As each individual's fingerprints are unique, it was enough to determine which West was which!

"Biometrics have been around as identifiers and authentication means for over 100 years, with the most well-known case being that of police/law enforcement use of fingerprints," noted Ralph Russo, director of the School of Professional Advancement Information Technology Program at Tulane University.

Advances in Biometrics

This system of fingerprint identification is just one of the unique identifiers that can tell individuals apart. In the century since Bertillon developed dactyloscopic technology there have been many advances that also can scan an individual's retina -- something that is as unique as fingerprints. In addition, there also have been great strides in facial recognition as well.

Both fingerprints and facial recognition scanning have been adopted in recent years as a way to unlock smartphones. Supporters of the technology have suggested they offer a greater level of security over passwords, which easily can be forgotten.

"The main advantage of the biometric authentication is its ease of use for the end user," said Leigh-Anne Galloway cybersecurity resilience lead at Positive Technologies.

"Simplicity in information security is not always good," she told TechNewsWorld. "The face and fingerprints are always with you. You will not forget them as a password, but you cannot change them either," Galloway added.

Biometric Advantages

The advantages of using digital biometrics -- including fingerprints, iris scans or facial recognition -- to manage access to applications and devices include fast and reliable access to information tied to a specific person, as well as relatively high accuracy, suggested Tulane's Russo.

In addition, biometrics as a password can't be lost or forgotten, and therefore businesses do not have to manage the flood of forgotten password changes, while passwords can be relegated to a secondary option. Biometrics also can used as part of a multifactor authentication process, and they can replace cards and other physical devices that can be lost or stolen.

The latter "results in thousands of incidents of lost identification each year as people try to manage the ID along with their luggage, and following TSA procedures," Russo told TechNewsWorld.

There is also the convenience factor, and the fact that no type of password is truly perfect.

"All methods of identifying people have risks and drawbacks; to avoid forgetting passwords for a multitude of sites, people write them down, store them in plaintext -- not encrypted -- or trust them to third-party password managers which present a risk that the password manager could be hacked," said Russo.

"Expect the use of biometrics to increase at an increasing rate going forward, and this is for many reasons, including convenience to the user, lower cost for the business to scale and manage, and a relatively frictionless user experience," he added.

"Once users have chosen their type of biometric authentication, there is no typing on tiny keyboards, no phone calls, and no one leaves home without their hands or face -- just comparatively fast and easy access," Russo noted.

Privacy and Security Concerns

The other side of the issue is one of privacy, and the fact that biometric technology could be used for nefarious reasons. That is why the city government of San Francisco has instituted a blanket ban on face recognition technology. Just this week California became the first state to consider a state-wide ban of face recognition technology.

Assembly Bill 1215, known as the Body Camera Accountability Act, has proposed a ban on facial recognition software in police body cameras due to privacy concerns. Similar concerns are being echoed regarding the use of fingerprints as a method of identification.

Even travelers who see the benefits with the Clear or similar biometric screening systems may want to consider if the cons may outweigh the pros.

"Although it can shave a few minutes off of travel times, we'd recommend that travelers spend the extra few minutes in line to maintain sovereignty over their personal data," said Sean McGrath, privacy advocate at ProPrivacy.

"Both private companies (United and Clear) and the government have proven time and time again, that they can't be trusted to keep this data secure," he told TechNewsWorld.

Another concern is that once a fingerprint or eye scan is in the system it isn't easy to get it back out again.

"As travel authorities shift from using traditional technologies to biometrics, travelers are having less of a say of how their biometric data is used," McGrath added.

Is It a Perfect System?

There is another issue to consider and that is the reliability of biometrics. Faces change with weight loss or gain, and people do look different as they age. Fingerprints, while unique to individuals, do have similarities as well. And what about cuts or burns to a finger -- is it really such a perfect system for identification?

"Reading sensors and fingerprint processing algorithms have a certain threshold for sample compliance," explained Positive Technologies' Galloway.

"Considering possible damage or impurity of a finger, this threshold makes it possible to compromise the print," she added.

Thus the higher the threshold, the more false-negatives possible; the lower, the more false-positives are possible.

"While injury can interfere with the reading of a fingerprint -- for comparison against a differing image file stored in the database -- most biometric systems encourage a second or tertiary print to be stored as well to allow access in these type situations," added Tulane University's Russo.

"In serious organizations, biometrics must be combined with other user verification tools, for example, finger plus eye plus password," said Galloway.

"Biometrics is not a 'perfect' means of identifying users of applications and systems; like anything involved with security there is a balance between too much security and too little security," said Russo. "Dial up the percentage to declare a match and get more failures -- false negatives -- and user frustration. Dial down the percentage and get more false positives and weaker security. This is as opposed to passwords, which are 100 percent matches or not."

Protecting the Biometrics

The biggest consideration in biometrics is whether this information ever can be secure enough. In 2015 the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was hacked and personal information of more than 5 million people -- including fingerprints -- was compromised.

"The biggest danger is the impossibility to change your biometric data," warned Galloway.

"Hacks and leaks have happened and will exist. There are no ideal systems; the biometric data used in our time isn't a secret," she added.

"Fingerprints can be restored by photo; voice, by calling and recording a sample; and the shape of the face, by collecting photos of a target from social networks," Galloway explained.

"If your password is hacked, you can always create a new one, but if biometric data is stolen you couldn't realistically change your fingerprints, face or irises, so that data could be used to attempt to fool devices and allow unauthorized access," said Russo.

"However, this is not as easy to do as one might think, and while people have successfully replicated fingerprints and voice prints to fool systems, face ID secured systems are much harder to fool," Russo added.

"In all, the incidents of using hacked biometrics to successfully gain access to systems have been minimal," he noted.

Another consideration is that "protecting biometric databases is not much different from protecting other forms of data stored within a given network, except perhaps in how governments' accumulation of such data is rapidly outpacing their ability to secure it," said Christopher Whyte, assistant professor of homeland security and emergency preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

"As recent breaches here in Tennessee and abroad have shown, massive leaks involving this kind of data are far from fantasy," he told TechNewsWorld.

Even when it is protected, the question comes back to how well some of works.

"Biometric data actually does bring with it an added obstacle to security in that you need to actively work with the data to account for variations in the nature of relevant information," said Whyte.

"I, for instance, grew a beard last year and I have a friend that lost 80 lbs. two years ago -- both would have to be controlled for by a facial recognition algorithm," Whyte added. "This prevents at least some amount of standard practice when it comes to minimizing the information stored by a company or organization that could actually be stolen or leaked."

Peter Suciu has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2012. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile phones, displays, streaming media, pay TV and autonomous vehicles. He has written and edited for numerous publications and websites, including Newsweek, Wired and FoxNews.com. Email Peter.

Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

TechNewsWorld

Cloudflare Cuts Service to 'Cesspool of Hate' 2019-08-06 06:18:22Cloudflare has cut service to 8chan, an online forum it called a "cesspool of hate." The move was motivated by the role 8chan played in mass shootin

How Tech Could Rescue the Awful Democratic Debates 2019-08-05 14:01:18Like many of you, I watched eight-plus hours of Democratic debates last week, and they seem to be getting worse over time. The last effort made it loo

TROM-Jaro: A New Twist on Open Source Freedom 2019-08-02 12:47:31TROM-Jaro Linux offers a new twist on the concept of open source as free software. First released as a beta version last December, TROM-Jaro's second

Is Biometrics ID Security Good Enough? 2019-08-02 05:24:51United Airlines has announced plans to begin rolling out Clear's biometric prescreening at its hub airports. The system works by verifying a flier's

UCSF Researchers Synthesize Speech From Brain Waves 2019-08-01 06:17:50Researchers led by speech neuroscientist Edward Chang at the University of California San Francisco have achieved success at decoding speech attempts

Capital One Discloses Massive Data Breach, Hacker Arrested 2019-07-31 05:28:53Capital One Financial Corporation has announced a data breach affecting some 100 million people in the U.S. and another 6 million in Canada. The FBI a

GitHub Blocks Devs in US-Sanctioned Regions 2019-07-30 13:37:07GitHub is blocking users in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria from accessing its services to comply with U.S. trade control laws. The Microsof

Apple to Jump on 5G Bandwagon in 2020 2019-07-30 05:53:25Apple's 2019 crop of iPhones haven't been released yet but there's already talk about its 2020 plans, largely because that will be the first year t

Tesla's Failings Overshadow Its Impressive Successes 2019-07-29 13:26:45Launching a new car company and getting it to global scale doesn't happen often, and it has been a long time since there has been a successful launch

Emmabuntüs Is a Hidden Linux Gem 2019-07-26 13:01:27Emmabuntüs is a great find if you are looking for an all-around Linux operating system that keeps legacy computers out of the trash heap and is e

What the CBS Blackout Means for the Future 2019-07-26 05:49:41CBS went dark across AT&T's U-verse and DirecTV services, days after the seven-year contract between the two companies expired. As the two couldn

DoJ to Examine Big Tech Competitive Landscape 2019-07-25 06:13:18The DoJ has announced an antitrust probe into big tech, following several months of rumors that it was about to do so. The DoJ plans to review how the

PCWorld

How to buy the perfect PC case 2019-08-06 08:02:00No matter whether you treat your computer as the centerpiece of your home office or just stuff it under your desk, buying the right PC case matters.At

Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ review: Slim and inexpensive, 2019-08-06 06:41:00If you’re looking for an inexpensive quad-core laptop that’s less than three-quarters of an inch thick, the Acer Aspire 5 A515-54-51DJ mig

Lutron Aurora review: A nearly perfect solution for 2019-08-06 06:00:00This gadget handily solves the smart bulb, dumb switch problem—but only if you have Philips Hue bulbs and a toggle switch.

The best laptops: Premium laptops, cheap laptops, 2-in-1s, 2019-08-05 21:40:00The laptop world is a-changing. New CPUs and GPUs—yes, mobile discrete GPUs—are bringing forth laptops that are thinner, lighter, and fast

Apple Card FAQ: Interest rates, rewards, sign-up and 2019-08-05 15:00:00Here's everything you need to now about Apple's new credit card.

Best phone mounts and holders for cars 2019-08-05 14:02:00If you’re using your smartphone for GPS directions but leaving it in your lap or cupholder, it’s time to get a phone holder for your car.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall review: This space-faring 4X 2019-08-05 09:00:00“Cryosleep cycle complete. No casualties. Time since launch: 197 years. We’re finally back.” Jack Gelder stands on the deck of his s

Intel's Gen 11 graphics has improved so much, 2019-08-05 06:00:00It looks like we'll have to stop joking about Intel's integrated graphics. With the arrival of the 10th-gen Ice Lake CPU, we're finally seeing impr

Blue Line Innovations EnergyCloud review: A simpler way 2019-08-05 06:00:00It's not as sophisticated as some other systems, but it costs less and is easier to set up.

Wemo WiFi Smart Light Switch 3-Way review: One 2019-08-05 06:00:00Excellent design, trouble-free installation, and elimination of the need for a matching switch gives Wemo another winner in the smart home space.

How to keep Amazon, Apple, and Google from 2019-08-03 17:08:00Amazon Echo and Google Home users can shut the door on “human review” of their voice recordings. Also: how to wipe your Siri history off o

News that Intel's first Xe graphics cards will 2019-08-02 19:14:00Editor's note: Since this article posted, Tom's Hardware reported that Koduri's original statement about the first Xe graphics card had been mistra

FOX News

Apple Card starts rolling out for some users 2019-08-06 08:28:06Apple began to roll out its entry into the credit card business, Apple Card, on Tuesday, following comments from CEO Tim Cook last month.

YouTube removes far-right creator Soph's account for hate 2019-08-05 17:50:55Google-owned YouTube has taken down the account of a teenage creator after she posted a video that seemed to call for violence against LGBT people.

Big Tech faces massive antitrust fines under new 2019-08-05 15:48:33Big tech giants like Google and Facebook would face massive, crippling fines under a new bill meant to combat antitrust violations.

Google employee's viral memo alleges discrimination against pregnant 2019-08-05 14:37:44A memo written by a Google employee that alleges discrimination against pregnant women has gone viral at the tech giant, according to Motherboard.

Futuristic flying car hovers above the ground for 2019-08-05 13:42:42In a moment reminiscent of the film "Back to the Future," a Japanese electronics maker showed off a "flying car" on Monday.

El Paso shooting: 8chan offline after Internet company 2019-08-05 09:17:49Controversial online forum 8chan is offline after Internet services company Cloudflare pulled its support for the site in the wake of the horrific El

FTC probes Amazon deal that booted Apple refurbishers 2019-08-05 09:01:00Amazon's deal to sell official Apple products is facing a possible Federal Trade Commission investigation because the same deal also booted many thir

Google-owned artificial intelligence can predict acute kidney injury 2019-08-05 07:48:06Researchers at Google's DeepMind Health say that have developed an AI that is capable of spotting symptoms of acute kidney injury (AKI) 48 hours befo

French inventor successfully soars over English Channel on 2019-08-04 21:12:13The French inventor of the jet-powered hoverboard soared over the English Channel despite wind gusts Sunday, becoming the first to cros

Apple credit card gotchas, best free email, private 2019-08-04 07:00:33Apple Card gotchas, the best free email program, alternative operating systems and much more.

TechCrunch

SpaceX successfully launches twice-flown Falcon 9, catches fairing 2019-08-06 19:31:58SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 first-stage that had previously served two missions in July and November of 2018, today carrying its final pay

The Pill Club is donating 5,000 units of 2019-08-06 19:25:40How birth control delivery startups can better support women in today's political climate.

Comcast’s $10 internet plan opens up to all 2019-08-06 19:18:56Low-income families face the same issues the luckier among us do when it comes to getting broadband: few options and fewer still that are affordable.

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket will go reusable, with 2019-08-06 18:23:39Private rocket launch startup and SpaceX competitor Rocket Lab made a big announcement today: It’ll be looking to re-use the first stage of its

Indie developer flooded with racist, misogynist abuse after 2019-08-06 18:12:40The two developers of an indie game called Ooblets have been subjected to "tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands" of abusive messages follo

Disney will bundle Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ for 2019-08-06 17:50:56Disney’s upcoming streaming service Disney+ will be available as a $12.99 monthly bundle with ESPN+ and ad-supported Hulu. That means the f

Self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics begins deliveries in 2019-08-06 17:38:13A year after coming out of stealth mode with $40 million, self-driving truck startup Kodiak Robotics will begin making its first commercial deliveries

Facebook sues two app developers for click injection 2019-08-06 17:24:17Facebook has filed lawsuits against two app developers accused of generating fraudulent revenue using the social media giant’s advertising platf

BlockFi, which lends money to cryptocurrency holders, just 2019-08-06 16:25:19Last year, we told you about a New York-based startup that had begun lending cold, hard, cash to cryptocurrency holders who don’t want to offloa

Quantum computing is coming to TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019-08-06 16:00:30Here at TechCrunch, we like to think about what’s next, and there are few technologies quite as exotic and futuristic as quantum computing. Afte

The crossroads between ethics and technology 2019-08-06 16:00:03Israel, and its tech business community, must carefully consider the negative ramifications of excelling in technology while disregarding moral and et

What tech gets right about healthcare 2019-08-06 15:36:01Why is tech still aiming for the healthcare industry? It seems full of endless regulatory hurdles or stories of misguided founders with no knowledge o

Electrek

EGEB: Hottest July in recorded history, Diageo spends 2019-08-06 09:00:04 In today’s EGEB: July 2019 was the hottest month in recorded history — everywhere. Drinks giant Diageo goes green in Africa. Presidential

Gogoro signs on more scooter manufacturers to its 2019-08-06 08:00:27 Gogoro’s new ‘Powered by Gogoro Network’ was just announced today and already has some big names signed on, including Yamaha, Aeon

First demo of Tesla’s latest ‘Enhanced Summon’ that 2019-08-06 06:26:25 A Tesla owner in the early access program released a quick demonstration of a new version of Enhanced Summon, which CEO Elon Musk says “almost

Jackery SolarSaga 60W Panel Review: Perfect companion for 2019-08-05 15:01:19 If you’re going to be spending some time off-grid and plan on using a portable power station to keep some juiced up, a solar panel might be som

Investment ideas in electric vehicle and other green 2019-08-05 14:47:20 [Ed. Note: Zalkon is a separate entity from Electrek, see full disclosure below] The transition to electric transportation and renewable energy is di

Tesla loses director of ‘manufacturing quality’ in production 2019-08-05 14:38:32 Tesla is losing its director of “manufacturing quality” at its Fremont factory to Gibson Guitar Corporation this month. more… Subs

This wooden body, shaft-drive electric motorcycle could be 2019-08-05 14:24:19 France-based Newron is showing off their new electric motorcycle design, which uses curved wooden body panels for a unique aesthetic. more… S

Save on Kobalt electric outdoor tools, Ryobi lawn 2019-08-05 13:53:22 Lowe’s offers the Kobalt 2-piece 40V Cordless Electric Blower and String Trimmer Kit for $133.33 shipped. Regularly a $250 value, this is

Tesla’s ‘Enhanced Summon’ almost doesn’t ‘suck’ anymore, says 2019-08-05 12:19:21 Tesla’s ‘Enhanced Summon’ feature has been taking a long time to get pushed to the wider fleet as the automaker is trying to improv

Review: Electric Bike Co’s Model C is a 2019-08-05 10:33:25 Some electric bicycle manufacturers hope to compete on design and aesthetics. Others aim for power and speed in order to win over riders. The aptly n

Tesla battery researcher Jeff Dahn talks $100 kWh 2019-08-05 10:15:35 Jeff Dahn, the head of Tesla’s battery research group in Halifax, talks about achieving $100 kWh cost of battery cells, removing cobalt from ce

EGEB: Blue energy — saltwater is power, New 2019-08-05 09:00:25 In today’s EGEB: Coastal saltwater — a new source of renewable energy? The ACEEE releases the 2019 City Clean Energy Scorecard. New Orlea

Ars Technica UK

SpaceX launched an expendable mission Tuesday, but caught 2019-08-06 20:30:06There has been a pretty remarkable sea change in the attitudes toward rocket reuse.

Disney’s new streaming bundle priced to compete with 2019-08-06 19:46:22It's the same price as Netflix's 1080p streaming option, which went up in January.

iOS 13 privacy feature will force total overhaul 2019-08-06 19:06:18Apple is set for another privacy showdown with Facebook and VoIP apps.

Silent Windows update patched side channel that leaked 2019-08-06 18:48:34It took a year, but the patch fixes a new speculative-execution flaw found by Bitdefender.

The Ferrari Portofino—Maranello made this one handle like 2019-08-06 17:00:46Yes, a car this big and powerful can be fun on a narrow, twisty road.

Tensions rise between humans, mythical creatures in new 2019-08-06 16:30:19"Think Game of Thrones but with better technology and set in Narnia."

AT&T workers took $1 million in bribes to 2019-08-06 16:00:46Malware installed on AT&T systems helped conspirators unlock 2 million phones.

Police can get your Ring doorbell footage without 2019-08-06 15:00:00Documents show Ring tells police how to get user engagement... and user footage.

Apple’s innovative virtual credit card is now available—but 2019-08-06 14:00:27The card will be available for everyone eligible by the end of the month.

Dealmaster: Grab another year of PlayStation Plus for 2019-08-06 12:45:58Plus $300 off the Google Pixel 3, big Lenovo ThinkPad discounts, and more.

Warring Maya kingdoms razed enemy cities to the 2019-08-06 12:30:26Researchers find reference to a burned city and match it to carbon deposits.

Board game blowout: Gen Con 2019 in pictures 2019-08-06 11:33:17America's biggest board game con has come and gone; we're back with pictures.


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.