Biometric Technology Pros and Cons

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Although biometric technology has become very prevalent in the world today, it is not a new technology. It’s actually be around for several decades and is currently being used by large companies and the military to enhance their security protocols. Fingerprint scanners are often the most recognized biometric technology being used, but retinal scanners and even facial recognition scanners are also part of this technology field.

There are some pros to using biometric technology, but there are also some cons that must be considered as well. Here is a look at its advantages and disadvantages in some greater detail.

What Are the Pros of Biometric Technology?

1. It provides a higher level of accuracy than other security methods.
Because biometric technology utilizes some specific physical features that are only associated with an individual profile, it provides a very secure method of authentication. Think about what would be a more secure method of locking up a tablet that has sensitive data on it: a fingerprint or a 4 digit PIN? Most people would choose the fingerprint.

2. It uses information that can be difficult to fraudulently forge.
It can be fairly easy to learn someone’s employee number so that they can be signed in and out at work without ever showing up. If a retina scanner is installed to register time in and time out, then that person would need to be present so that their retina could be scanned. This makes the systems difficult to manipulate or fool into releasing or registering secured data.

3. It saves everyone money.
Fraud is one of the biggest hidden costs that we all absorb every day, whether we know it or not. It can be something as simple as time card manipulation. It could be a major multiple day DdoS attack like Sony experienced over Christmas 2014. Biometric technology eliminates the security codes, the paperwork, and the passwords by making specific physical features the password instead.

4. It eliminates the need to remember or document multiple passwords.
Instead of having a long sheet of passwords that are available to enter banking data, trade stocks, or access a child’s report card, biometric technology could unlock all of these things so that the personal data can only be accessed by someone who has matching biometrics. This saves a business money and that means biometric technology can eventually pay for itself.

5. Security systems can be created fairly quickly.
It does not take very long to scan a fingerprint or a retina to create a unique ID. It’s about as fast as creating a PIN and password combination that may need to be altered in the future because it has been forgotten. Many people are familiar with this type of technology as well, which means that it is widely accepted by the general public.

What Are the Cons of Biometric Technology?

1. Something as simple as a photograph and a magnifying glass can defeat some systems.
Although advanced biometric technology is very secure, the average consumer version of the technology is reliant mostly on fingerprints. It’s simple enough to defeat this security mechanism with a picture of a person’s fingerprint and a magnifying glass that allows the sensors to accurately read it. If the security is based of voice technology, then a basic cell phone with recording functions could steal the voice to crack the security.

2. It is a security system that is expensive.
Not only does there need to be hardware involved that will read the biometrics in the first place, but there must also be software that can interpret the results that the hardware scans. Not every system integrates well into modern biometric technology either, which means there is the potential of needing to upgrade an entire system to increase that system’s security.

3. It doesn’t always pick up a person’s data during a scan.
There is a small portion of the population, estimated to be between 2-5%, that biometric technology does not accurately scan on a regular basis. For these folks, it would be virtually impossible to operate in a society that is dominated by security protocols that use this data because their scans would almost always be rejected for some reason. This is particularly true for individuals who suffer an injury to their physical features after setting up security protocols.

4. It can be perceived as invasive.
Not many people are comfortable with the idea of making their personal features part of their security network. Movies have shown us horror stories of criminals hacking off fingers so that they can be used to access a network. A scene from the 90’s movie Demolition Man has Wesley Snipes digging an eye out of a person so he can escape from prison. Security that is this invasive is often seen as an intrusion on personal rights.

5. Personal data can be different.
Some of the more advanced forms of biometric technology is reliant on keystroke behaviors. The advantage of a keystroke system is that the information can never be lost and it can be difficult to replicate behaviors that are seen from a distance. The negative, however, is that the personal data that is generated can be different. Keyboards in different countries are structured differently and this can translate into inaccurate results being registered.

Is Biometric Technology a Positive Security Development?

The benefits of biometric technology are clear. This is why the military and large businesses are already using the technology extensively to restrict access to sensitive data and ensure that positive results are achieved. This technology is just starting to enter the regular consumer world, so there is about to be some growing pains associated with the process.

The advantages are clear. Biometric technology provides an added level of security. Although any security system can be broken into, the one real disadvantage of this technology is its cost. By weighing the pros and cons, each business, consumer, and other institutions can determine if this is technology that they wish to pursue.