Biometric technology is the subject of security controversy

The “New” Type of Identity Theft: Are you Secure?

By IGI Global on May 15, 2017
Ever since 9/11, the subject of security has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds and biometrics took its place in the spotlight. The idea of being able to identify a person based on physical or behavioral characteristics is leading the way to better national security and, in the medical field, providing more accurate and secure health records.

Since then, the Department of Homeland Security developed the Office of Biometric Identity Management, one of the largest biometrics repositories in the federal government. Although, the idea of someone being able to collect citizen’s iris scans, fingerprint and other physical markers may sound frightening, what many do not see is that we are adopting this technology into our everyday lives. The one industry biometrics is majorly impacting is the medical industry. Studies predict that healthcare biometrics will reach nearly $5 billion by 2020. Healthcare biometric technology is leading the crusade against medical fraud.

“The medical and healthcare service sectors in developed as well as third world countries are facing major setback due to medical identity theft when healthcare industries and hospitals are rapidly adopting biometrics technologies for accessing records and patient privacy,” explained Dakshina Ranjan Kisku, assistant professor at the National Institute of Technology Durgapur, India.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), medical theft in the U.S. has increased 40 percent between 2016-2017 and nearly 92 million records have been affected. The technology is not only protecting records, but keeping hospitals and related resources safe from intruders. However, one of the biggest protectors of these resources is also leading to one of the largest controversies. There are many concerns with institutions collecting biometric information and the likelihood of the data being compromised.

The “New” Type of Identity Theft: Are you secure? Kisku highlights the example of a hacker faking a German minister’s fingerprints using photos of her hand while she was speaking at a press conference. “This could be happening to anyone who is unaware about the presence of sophisticated and high quality sensors or other means setup, by malicious persons, nearby the subject to capture one or more biometric evidences,” stated Kisku.

Once biometric data is compromised and a hacker has the information, they can access valuable items or information. Additionally, the person who has the information can sell the data in open markets enabling others to use that data for fraudulent purposes. Biometric information is not a passcode that can be changed when compromised, but a part of a human; therefore, biometric data is compromised and hackers have access to some of the most unique and unchangeable information. So, before handing over fingerprints, citizens need to question the security measures of the medical institutions, find out what their plan is if biometric data is compromised and adversely ask more about the new technology that is emerging to protect patients.

Biometrics is like any other technology, it has its pros and cons. It can prevent disasters, but at the same time be the root of a disaster. Internationally, there are laws that protect citizens from violations when using the technology, but some say there are still grey areas when it comes to this innovative and rapidly progressing technology.

So, the question remains, is this the solution to keeping information secure or is this a catalyst for a national disaster?

A sincere thank you to Dr. Dakshina Ranjan Kisku for taking the time to speak with IGI Global and sharing his thoughts and research on biometric security. For more information on his research, please take the time to review the publications below:

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