Biometric technology has been in the limelight recently, and for a good reason. As ExpressVPN’s summary shares, biometric technology or biometrics, as they’re most commonly known, refers to several types of physical or behavioral attributes unique to an individual. These attributes are used as a form of identification or authentication for various services.
Fingerprints, facial recognition scanning, and even voice recognition are all examples of biometrics that have unique identifiers.
Biometrics has been used in cybersecurity, finance, and healthcare for a while now. In some cases, using biometrics could be safer than using a regular password to sign in to your accounts. Biometrics can also be an excellent tool for increasing efficiency. Airport security systems, for example, often use fingerprint, iris, and retina scanning to speed up processing at customs and verify that a person truly is who they appear to be.
Closer to everyday electronics, biometrics can be found on several smart devices, including smartphones, laptops, and smart speakers. For example, Google’s various smart speakers use a tool called Voice Match to determine if the person speaking to it is the device owner or someone else. Google smart speakers can then cater search results based on the device owner’s personal preferences through voice recognition.
As biometric technology continues to progress and make strides in various fields, it’s worth noting how far this new technology could go.
In 2022 it’s been predicted that three biometric trends will take center stage.
The first trend is cloud-based biometrics, which automatically saves biometric data onto a cloud versus saving it on a device. Through cloud-based biometrics, companies can adopt biometric technology without having to build those systems themselves. Saved biometric data can then be easily transferred effortlessly for other devices and accounts.
As with most cloud-based computing systems, there’s always the risk that something could be hacked or compromised.
The next trend looks at multimodal authentication. The margin of error that can sometimes occur with biometric authentication could be significantly reduced through multimodal authentication. The legitimacy of biometric technology was questioned when it was revealed that the South Wales police had wrongly identified thousands of potential criminals while using facial recognition technology during the 2017 Champions League final.
Multimodal authentication utilizes various modes of biometrics to identify an individual correctly. Besides better accuracy, multimodal authentication could also add an extra layer of security to make it harder for malicious third parties to access information and accounts.
The third trend looks at behavioral biometrics. An extension of multimodal authentication, behavioral biometrics looks to measure cognitive behavior such as voice, typing patterns, and gait, amongst other things.
Two main concerns surrounding biometric technology are the security and privacy risks associated with the usage and storage of data. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation, biometrics run the risk of being under surveillance by governments, companies, and malicious third parties. Biometric data can also grant access to identity thieves looking to steal personal information such as birthdays, addresses, and even social security numbers.
The other concern consumers might have with biometric data is that it’s not easy to replace. For example, suppose a hacker manages to obtain a copy of someone’s fingerprint and uses it to gain access into an account and proceeds to change the authentication method to their own fingerprint, it’s going to be difficult to gain access to that account again.
So, how can consumers protect themselves and their privacy?
One of the things consumers can do is to stay away from solely relying on biometrics when it comes to authentication and verification. Ideally, consumers should adopt multi-factor authentication (MFA) tools to secure their accounts properly. MFA tools can include authentication apps and backup security codes. For example, banking apps might require customers to authorize transactions by tapping a button on their mobile device through the app. MFA adds an extra layer of security for consumers.
Another thing consumers can do is to ensure that all their apps and software are up to date. Besides improving the efficiency of your device, updating apps and software helps to improve its security. Software update notes often reveal exploitable entry points of an application, so by updating your software; you’re making it hard for hackers to gain access.
Lastly, always make sure you’re sharing your biometric data with legitimate companies or sites. If you’re highly concerned about your privacy, try to opt-out of using biometrics where possible. This way, you’re reducing the exposure of your biometric data to unruly third parties.
With so many companies and industries relying on biometric data to ease the load on processes and automate specific processes, biometric technology is here to stay. To better protect their data and privacy, consumers should stay up to date on the latest developments in biometrics and be more aware of who they’re volunteering their data up to each time they sign up for something.