Biometric locking mechanisms are very cool – they let us do things like scan our way into top-secret lairs deep down underground – or, well, unlock our phones.
And biometric security has some great benefits.
#1 There’s nothing to remember
You can’t forget your fingerprint. You don’t have to write it down. You can’t even accidentally blurt it out. They’re quite safe, as secrets go. And there’s no beating the convenience.
#2 Biometrics can be secure
Well-designed systems that use biometrics don’t store a digital copy of, say, a fingerprint. Rather, they store a hash of the identifier. Math is used to verify that a scanned biometric is the same one that was registered as authentic, but you can’t go the other way and generate the fingerprint from the hash. So if, for example, your iPhone is stolen, nobody’s going to be able to extract your fingerprint from it and use it elsewhere.
It’s all fun and games till someone steals your identity. Let’s take a look at why it could be a very bad idea to opt for fingerprint locks on your devices.
#1 They will be hacked
Bad guys have already figured out how to fake fingerprints using anything from play-dough to photographs and wearable 3D-printed moulds of fingers.
A single biometric credential theft creates a lifetime of vulnerability – if your passwords get lost or stolen, you can always reset them. But if your fingerprint is hacked, what are you going to do, get a new finger?
#2 They’re not just in your head
In many jurisdictions, you can be legally compelled to put your fingerprint on a scanner (or your eye in an iris scanner). But passwords are knowledge, and no one can force you to give up something that’s solely inside your head. Yes, the law should equally protect passwords and biometrics. But in most places, it doesn’t.
#3 They can be hacked at the source
All of your biometric information could be stored on the cloud, and what’s to stop hackers from getting in and stealing your identity? Like we mentioned earlier, fingerprints are for life.
#4 You really are better off with a password
Experts highly recommend using strong passwords as a first line of security. But you have to make sure that your passwords are actually strong. A decent length (say 8-11) and a mix of characters and numbers are extremely important. If someone wants to hack into your devices and steal information about your private life, finances and even go so far as to steal your identity, the least you can do is make it super hard for them.
Security keeps the economy running. Without passwords and encryption, there wouldn’t be internet banking, or e-commerce, or private email, or social networking. Even with fingerprint readers on most phones, biometrics are still a long way from becoming the primary way into our devices. What are your thoughts on this? Do you use a fingerprint lock on your phone or laptop? Let us know in the comments.