Biometric data are one of the most sensitive types of data. Biometric data are being collected more frequently through everyday uses, such as fingerprint unlock on smartphone and tablets to access the device and apps within the device. These data include physical traits in addition to your fingerprint, such as your eyes, voice, and behavior. Biometric data must be collectible and permanent to be useful.
How Private Are Your Biometric Data?
You may be wary of using your fingerprint to log in to your phone or financial apps. Some major areas of concern about biometrics include data collections that can be hacked, complacency leading to unsecured biometric data, and duplication of physical identity. Laws that govern the use of biometric data are still being written; therefore, your rights differ from one state to another. Federal lawmakers are currently working on a law that will address biometric privacy. Until the laws are clear enough to protect you against criminal activity from the use of biometric data, you may find it safer to skip the fingerprint confirmation on your mobile devices.
The Dangers of Exposing Your Biometric Data
Because your biometric data pose a unique means of identification, you are placed at continual risk for identity theft and fraud. Regardless of what you see in spy movies, you can only have one identity, no matter how many aliases, personas, and impersonations you may have. Your fingerprints, eyes, DNA, and other unique identifiers cannot be duplicated by any other human being.
Every time you employ your biometrics as a means of verification, it is stored an electronic profile somewhere. The databases used to store this information are most likely encrypted, but some are not, leaving your biometrics in a vulnerable state. Vulnerabilities in software and storage designs and misconfigurations of a host system may leave biometric data exposed to cyberattacks. The largest issue with biometric data is the static nature of those data.
Passwords can be reset when compromised, but how do you reset your fingerprint once the data have been exposed? Your biometrics will always be connected to you, and, once exposed, you become an easy target for multiple cyberthreats.
Tips for Protecting Your Biometric Data
You can protect your biometric data by following three simple tips:
- Update your software. When updates to your mobile device’s software become available, make sure to install them right away. Software updates contain patches that can enhance the security of your biometric and other data.
- Use strong passwords. Strong passwords make it difficult for hackers to steal your data. By lowering the number of places you use your biometric information, hackers have fewer places to find it. For instance, you can use your fingerprint to unlock your phone but keep a strong password when accessing your banking app. You can also avoid using facial recognition software from Facebook and other sites.
- Don’t use biometrics as your main identifier. You should never rely on your biometrics as the sole means of authentication or authorization. Always pair your biometric data with a password or skip using it completely and use another solution, such as two-factor or multifactor authentication.