Cyber Security Threats to the Biometric Systems

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    The advancement of technology has made our lives better in many ways. It has made the world to be a global village. We can access certain information, shop, or book from home over the internet. However, our dependence on these technologies has resulted in a great number of threats to our security and confidentiality. Since technology has made everything available online, there is a new threat many people are facing called cybersecurity threat. Security is important when personal details are concerned but it is compromised because of such threats.

    Cybersecurity threats

    The increasing digitization generates needs for cybersecurity. Compromising with the cybersecurity is a threat to your confidentiality or personal information of your organization and clients too. This is a threat to an individual, a nation, or an authority. Clifford Stoll, a computer programmer observed some irregularities in accounting data in 1986. He then invented the first digital forensic techniques after realizing that an unauthorized user was entering into his computer network and steal important information. As asserted by Clifford Stoll, cybersecurity refers to the security of the computer systems including their software, electronic data, and their hardware. Nowadays, the level of cybercrime has increased because many people are using these technologies to do crimes for their personal interest.

    What are biometric systems?

    Biometrics is defined as permanent information of an individual. The information is used for an important purpose like verifying your identity when voting, transacting big money among others. Biometrics includes information like the fingerprint, DNA, or human characteristics. Therefore, the systems using such information are called biometric systems. A good example is the fingerprint scanner, frequently used in the hospitals and in some offices like in the office of the president. It serves as one of the finest advancements of technology and has proved to be helpful. Most importantly, these systems only allow individuals whose bio-metrics match with the ones stored in the system to pass through. This is one of the finest ways to ensure security.

    Threats of biometric systems

    Although the biometric system is one of the finest technology advancements, the system still faces a lot of security threats from hackers. The miscreants, for example, remain to be one step forward that has resulted in a security threat to biometric systems as well. It is nowadays very hard to accept the credibility of a biometric system because of the growing security threats. The miscreants do not leave a single way to gather the kind of sensitive information they want thus becoming a threat to many nations as it can allow a terrorist to obtain the sensitive information of an individual or a nation and use them to fulfill harmful intentions.

    What is the cure?

    Being strict on the cybersecurity laws as well as giving proper punishment to those who violate the law is the first thing to do to reduce the cybersecurity threats of the biometric system. It is not impossible to deal with cybersecurity threats of biometric systems as most of us may thin because the threats are created by many and therefore can be prevented by man. Advanced technology must be used to protect confidential information. Lastly, educate people about different cybersecurity threats; it is important to make individuals aware of such threats and suggest them precautions while using any confidential or personal information.



    Biometric security has become a preferred way to prevent companies and individuals from hackers’ intent on fraud and identity theft. Fingerprint sensors, iris scans and facial recognition systems have become mainstream, led by tech giants such as Apple.

    This technology has significant advantages in the fight against cyber crimes, but there are risks. I’ve mentioned the two main issues which individuals and organisations need to have some idea about if they want to protect themselves and the digital information they hold:

    • Individuals must understand that fingerprint or facial recognition can be ‘hacked’ as cyber criminals look to either steal or ‘spoof’ biometric data.
    • Organisations, for example hospitals which hold patient medical history, blood samples or DNA profiles, must understand the security implications of a data breach, and their potential liability.

    Biometric spoofing: The growing hacker threat

    Spoofing is the practice of ‘fooling’ a biometric security system using fake or copied biometric information. For example, a fingerprint can be stolen, copied and moulded onto an artificial silicon finger. This can be used to unlock a mobile device or payment system, allowing hackers access to the user’s bank account. Facial recognition systems, often used to secure smartphones or tablets, have been known to be vulnerable to simply being shown a photograph of the owner, thus unlocking the device.

    Companies are enhancing technology all the time to stay one step ahead of the hackers, but users leave fingerprints and DNA, such as saliva on a coffee cup, everywhere they go, opening up myriad opportunities for theft. Today, if you have your credit card stolen, you simply have a new one set up and the old one cancelled. But how do you replace a fingerprint or DNA sample that’s been stolen and reproduced?

    To stay one step ahead of cyber criminals, technology companies need to provide answers to the key security questions posed by biometric security systems, such as how to securely store this information, prevent spoofing and most importantly, verify the authenticity of the user.

    The data breach risk of storing personal medical records and DNA

    IT vulnerabilities in the Healthcare Technology and Life Science industry provide cyber criminals with huge opportunities to steal confidential patient medical records, clinical trial results and sensitive intellectual property, for example relating to drug development.

    This information is more valuable to hackers than credit card details stolen via online phishing methods because it can be used for medical insurance fraud, identity theft and in the case of drug development, for sale on the black market to counterfeit drug traffickers, an industry worth an estimated $75 billion annually.

    The secure storage of this information will be a critical element of security planning within this industry in the years to come as the potential for ‘bio-crime’ grows.

    So, with biometric security now mainstream, there are clear risks to individuals around identity theft and financial crime, should their fingerprints or DNA profile be stolen and reproduced for spoofing or medical fraud.

    Healthcare and Life Science organisations in particular need to understand just why the personalised medical information they hold is so valuable to cyber criminals and take steps to ensure they understand the security required to prevent a data breach.

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