The massive breach of the records of 143 million consumers from Equifax (EFX) highlights just how vulnerable consumers are in relying on companies to safeguard their information and how other biometric solutions can help in a big way.
After all, if our all-important Social Security are vulnerable to hackers, our protection mechanisms need to get more advanced.
Enter Apple's (AAPL) with its release of the iPhone X today that will feature a new "Face ID" to replace its current fingerprint reader. This functionality demonstrates how some companies are addressing cybersecurity issues by adopting biometrics. Samsung's (SSNLF) latest phone offers three options, including an iris and fingerprint scanner and facial biometrics. The new quest for market share may be reliant, in part, on these security capabilities.
Hackers obtained the personal and financial data of nearly half of Americans, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, driver's license numbers and also the credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers from Equifax, increasing the odds for identity theft to occur.
Cyber criminals are becoming more relentless and steadfast in their pursuits, since the black market for data is growing exponentially. And so the technology and financial industries have struggled to keep up. First, smartphone makers started by adopting the use of fingerprint biometrics, and the banking industry utilized voice biometrics where voice and speech patterns are used.
But the nefarious actions have required technology companies to up the ante, to an extend: facial biometrics could see a faster acceptance rate from the public, because iris and vein scans can appear to be intrusive to consumers and cannot be used in all situations.
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"We are in the early days, but facial biometrics stands a good chance of being widely adopted," said Joram Borenstein, a vice president of marketing of NICE Actimize, a Hoboken, N.J.-based financial crimes software solutions provider.
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While biometrics is emerging slowly among retail products, consumers have been using their fingerprints to log into their laptops and smartphones. Biometrics "is the easiest to use and provides the most security and accuracy" and will hamper the efforts of hackers," Borenstein said.
Facial biometrics operates much like voice or fingerprint technology which seek to garner a series of characteristics and the software looks for enough differences to produce a unique set of traits to authenticate the user, Borenstein said.
"The technology looks at the distance between the eyes or the contour of the face," he said. "In voiceprint, it examines the audio and tone and depths of that person's voice."
While facial biometrics or "selfies" may not emerge to be the game changer to combat data breaches and has its own vulnerabilities, it will become one of the "possible solutions," Borenstein said.
"Like any other sensitive credential, if the biometrics being collected are not protected in a secure manner in all the relevant pieces of security, access and encryption, then theoretically they can be stolen and possibly manipulated," he said.
Thwarting savvy cyberattackers who continually mine social media for their victims' personal details, is critical.
"Hackers will continue to attempt to bypass or socially engineer newer security protocols and look for other loopholes or brute force their way into data," Borenstein said. "They will continue to be creative and look to go around or through new technology that is being put in place."
Biometrics should never be the only security measure that is protecting sensitive information or financial accounts and should be used along with another method of authentication, said Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic, a Washington D.C.-based provider of privileged account management solutions.
"Biometrics are a complementary security control to make it easier for a human to interact with technology and should always be combined with an additional security control such as a passphrase or multi-factor authentication," he said. "Trust must be continuously challenged to ensure that the person behind the device is really the person who they say they are."
Since even fingerprint biometrics or facial recognition can be compromised adding a PIN or password reduces the risks, Carson said.
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