Imagine never having to remember a password or enter a PIN number again. Your phone, computer, bank account and even your own front door will all be able to recognize you through the use of biometrics. Your fingerprints, ears, voice, face, iris, retina, gait and even your distinct odor can already be used to identify you.
As convenient as it sounds – since you will always have your body with you – some are concerned about the potential for invasion of privacy and also the possibility of security breaches.
If a hacker steals your password, you can create a new one. But, if the computer storing your biometric data is hacked you cannot get a new ear, iris or voice. And since biometric security opens many doors, literally and figuratively, hackers may be able to gain much more than with a single password.
Privacy advocates warn this may be the beginning of Big Brother watching you, and not just online. Facial recognition software can pick an individual out of a football stadium full of people. Security cameras are already prevalent in public places, making it possible for you to be followed by the police, the government, companies, and hackers. This can happen as you walk down the street, shop, bike, or do anything where security cameras are located.
You may say, “I’m not going to hand over my biometric data to anyone.” Well, the truth is you may already have done so.
Touch ID on cell phones and voice-controlled assistants such as Alexa or Echo collect your fingerprints and your voice print. Social media sites such as Facebook already use facial recognition software to label photos of you and your friends. Even your iris can now be scanned from up to 30 feet away without you being aware.
In short, it looks like biometrics is here to stay as a method of identification and for use in security. One can only hope that those with the data do the best they can to keep your personal face, ear, eye, and other biometric information safe from hackers.