Are Biometrics the Answer?
We've all been lectured about the perils of weak passwords, but creating secure, complex passwords is tricky and ultimately, they aren't easy to remember. For some time now, many in security circles have been promoting the use of biometrics. Whether that involves using your fingerprint, iris, ear, face, or heartbeat, or something else that is uniquely yours and yours alone, the choices appear to be endless. Ron Dichter of Forbes notes that there is a growing faction that questions whether the use of these biological bits and pieces is the best way to safeguard our privacy.
One of the concerns surrounding biometrics has to do with how securely this information is stored by other agencies. Dichter points out that if your password is compromised, you can simply create a new password. But, what happens if someone finds a way to recreate your iris or fingerprint? We've all seen the movies where the bad guy removes some poor victim's thumb or eye to enable them to access the secure vault or computer system. Others are concerned about the level of confidential information we continue to give away in order to protect our privacy.
Supporting Web Links
- Biometrics: Authentication Silver Bullet or Skeleton Key?
- Passwords are passé, brace for biometrics
- Video: Your phone’s biggest vulnerability is your fingerprint
- Consumer Biometrics Month: 4 Easy End User Experiences
- JetBlue and Delta begin testing biometrics to identify passengers
- Biometrics Institute
- Video: BioSig-ID
- Poll the class to see how many students are currently using biometric options. Some may use Apple’s Touch ID on their iPhones. Are there other examples that students have encountered?
- Divide students into two groups to discuss the pros and cons of biometrics. Some options students should consider include privacy aspects and whether biometrics are good replacements for passwords. Allow both teams time to research their positions (either for or against the use of biometrics), then conduct a debate.
- As an individual project, ask students to research a biometric method. What is it? How does it work? Is it already in use? If so, where? Students should answer these and any other questions they feel are appropriate. Students should write a brief essay or create a presentation to share their findings with the class.