2016 / 10 July

5.6 Million Fingerprints Stolen. Could You Be Next?!

biometric_theft

Stealing biometric data is the ultimate form of identity theft and yours may already be at risk!

In the very near future, all of your usernames, passwords, and pin numbers are going to be replaced by biometrics (read Dinosaurs and Passwords, A Shared Fate). Biometric authentication is an revolutionary advancement for digital security but comes with tremendous risks when those biometrics are not properly protected or controlled. If someone steals your biometrics, they can never be replaced!

Here are some recent and frightening examples that are just scratching the surface of what is already a very serious cyber security threat:

  • The U.S. Office of Personal Management (OPM) recently admitted that during a 2015 cyber security breach, approximately 5.6 million fingerprint records were stolen from federal workers.
  • Not widely publicized yet, there is a recent class action lawsuit against Facebook that alleges they have, without permission, created, collected, and stored over a BILLION biometric “facial templates”, which are as uniquely identifiable as fingerprints.  Remember all those photos you uploaded to Facebook of friends, family, and those ubiquitously popular selfies?
  • A new report from Goode Intelligence forecasts that by 2020 more than $5.6 trillionof biometric payments will be performed. That’s an astonishing financial incentive for cyber criminals when it comes to biometric theft. You can bet they are honing their tools right now!

The trend in biometric authentication is already seeing rapid growth with the use of fingerprint technology available on Apple iPhones and a plethora of Android devices now on the market. To be clear, biometrics is a term that extends into everything from fingerprints, facial recognition, iris, voice, heart rhythms and even your DNA. So, it’s not just fingerprints that you should be worried about!

 It bears repeating, if your biometrics are stolen, your identity has been potentially compromised for life!

So, what’s the solution? A great many things need to happen, including more effective legislation and industry standards that protect biometric data but giving individuals physical control over their digital identity is perhaps the most urgent and immediate need. Separating your biometric keys from the devices that use them and then keeping those keys firmly in your possession is critical. To put this into context, storing your biometrics on a device such as your smartphone or inside cloud-based services that you do not control is akin to hiding the keys to your car in the glove compartment. Perhaps a bad analogy but you get the idea! Eventually, someone is going to drive off with your car!  At least you can replace your vehicle and your car keys — the same can not be said for your biometric identity.

At BluStor PMC, we passionately believe that biometric identity is the way of the future and can be accomplished without compromising your security. Keeping the keys to your digital identity separate from the devices that use them not only increases the level of security but also reduces the enormous liability facing any organization that otherwise choses to store biometric data.  You can bet that OPM and Facebook aren’t the only organizations that are about to face this dilemma in a very public way!

I won’t go into all the product details in this article, but the BluStor CyberGate platform leverages the integration of some advanced computing technology packed into a package roughly the same dimensions as a credit card that can be safely carried in your wallet, purse, or pocket. Capable of securely storing your biometrics along with a large amount of other sensitive data, it enables secure wireless authentication to devices, applications, physical facilities, and just about anything else you can imagine.

 CyberGate authentication is accomplished without ever needing to divulge your biometric data over the Internet or exposing them to a third-party service provider.

For once, there is a solution that is ahead of a problem and enables individuals to reclaim control of their digital identity while keeping it securely in their possession.

If you valued this article and want more, please hit the ‘like’ button and also share via your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook social media platforms. I encourage you to join the conversation or ask questions so feel free to add a comment on this post.

You can also find me on twitter at @NewFrontierCIO for more commentary on the frontiers of technology, leadership, space exploration, and science.

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