How Biometric Authentication Poses New Challenges to Our Security and Privacy [In the Spotlight]

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Discusses the challenges that face biometric authentication in the areas of privacy and network security. The use of biometric data-an individual's measurable physical and behavioral characteristics-isn't new. Government and law enforcement agencies have long used it. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been building a biometric recognition database; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is sharing its iris and facial recognition of foreigners with the FBI. But the use of biometric data by consumer goods manufacturers for authentication purposes has skyrocketed in recent years. For example, Apple's iPhone allows users to scan their fingerprints to unlock the device, secure mobile bill records, and authenticate payments. Lenovo and Dell are companies that leverage fingerprints to enable users to sign onto their computers with just a swipe. Using biometric data to access our personal devices is increasing as a way to get around the limitations of the commonly used password-based mechanism: it's easier, more convenient, and (theoretically) more secure. But biometric data can also be stolen and used in malicious ways. Capturing fingerprints at scale isn't as easy as lifting a credit card or Social Security number, but experience and history tells us that once something is used extensively, criminals will figure out how to misuse and monetize it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7974880
Pages (from-to)194-196
Number of pages3
JournalIEEE Signal Processing Magazine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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