Biometrics are not all and above personal and organizational securities. Seon, a security company, ran a survey that asked Americans their preferred identity protection method, and 45% of the respondents chose biometrics. Biometrics are robust because they use unique features everyone carries around them; hence, they are hard, but not impossible, for hackers to invade. Your eye, fingerprint, vein pattern, face, and other personal data comprise your biometrics.
But, yes, biometric hacking is entirely possible.
What is Biometrics?
Biometric security uses systems that cannot be mimicked – theoretically. A biometric system uses personal information like facial recognition, eye recognition, fingerprint verification, and voice verification to protect your device, identity, and software from unauthorized access. Biometric security is deployed in simple mechanisms like your mobile phones and more complex security protocols like organization security.
Are Biometrics Really Secure?
To a large extent, yes. Biometric authentication and verification are accepted and adopted by persons and organizations. Most people think that a biometric hack is impossible, but there are always lapses, even in the most secure systems in the world. While biometric security makes it more expensive and time-consuming to hack, a scammer with deep pockets and nefarious intentions should find a way.
Can Biometrics Be Hacked?
Yes, biometric hacking is possible. Ways of hacking biometrics include:
- Using deep fake technology to fool facial verification and voice verification.
- Stealing biometric data from databases.
- Recreating stolen biometric data.
- Using a fake or a synthetic biometric to hack into devices, software, and organizational systems.
- Social engineering: Using phishing and love scams to obtain vital biometric information.
- Bypassing biometric systems.
We will cover each of these processes along the way.
Can a Hacker Steal My Biometrics Data?
Yes, when a biometric hack happens, sometimes, it is facilitated because a hacker steals your biometrics. In 2019, hackers had access to the fingerprint database, captured features, and facial verification of Bio Star customers. Around 6,000 organizations globally use Bio Star, and the hack led to more than 2.8 million records being revealed on the dark web. There is almost always a biometric database for you or your organization’s system. For example, where do you think Apple stores your biometric data? The data doesn’t just disappear into thin air. A good guess is that Apple has a biometric partner that handles the secure storage and validation of biometrics. Think about all the phone companies you use, security cameras, and other devices.
Biometrics hacking players can also create a likeness of your biometrics. For example, hackers can create deep fake videos from already existing videos you have on your Instagram account. With deep fake technology, hackers can recreate stunning lookalikes and use the fake to access personal data. A hacker can also use AI technology to recreate your voice pattern, pronunciation, texture, and accent, conveniently mimicking your voice and using the result to gain access to your devices and security systems.
How Hacking Fingerprints and Biometrics Happen
History has shown time and again that biometric hacking does happen. Many times, an organization’s complacency can lead to data compromise, putting employees’ and customers’ data at risk. There are many ways a hacker can hack or bypass your biometric security, and yes, even biometric protocols may sometimes have loopholes that can be exploited. From data breaches to social engineering, deep fakes, voice printing, and face masking, these biometric hack methods will harm even the most sophisticated companies in the world.
1. Database Breaching
We have established the fact that companies store your biometric data in a database. If, by chance or deliberately, a hacker or someone gets access to the biometric database, he could be looking at a goldmine of fingerprints, facial verification, and other features or tons of people. Most hackers often sell this data over the dark web. But why do companies have to store biometrics? Let’s use a simple phone biometric technology.
When you buy your iPhone, the foremost thing to do is to secure your device. The iPhone gives you many options, including biometrics. Most people often set up fingerprints that override other security protocols like password verification. When you set up your mobile phone’s fingerprint, Apple will request a base fingerprint and store that fingerprint with a biometric secure storage company. To gain access to your phone, you must provide a fingerprint that matches yours. Since each person has a unique fingerprint, it means you are the only person that can open the phone using your fingerprint. The same process goes for facial verification (although facial verification is easier to fake). When a hacker breaches your phone manufacturer’s database provider, your fingerprint and the fingerprints of millions of users in their database become a sellable commodity on the dark web.
Equipped with a fingerprint, a hacker can recreate your prints – and the technology needed to achieve this is quite cheap and gain access to your device.
2. Fake/ Synthetic Biometrics
In 2013, two days after Apple released its iPhone 5s, the Chaos Computer Club, a German-based security firm, released a video where they bypassed the phone’s security lock with a fake fingerprint. Sometimes, when you attempt to unlock a phone with a fake biometric, the phone will eventually provide other options, including passwords and documentation. With enough skillset, a hacker should be able to bypass mobile security and activate a less stressful and very hackable protocol.
3. Deep Fakes
Techs like General Adversarial Neural Networks GANs and related software can create convincing deep fakes for video and voice, fooling even some of the most advance biometric checks in the world. Deep fakes can include voice photocopying. With voice photocopying, an AI can take a voice sample of a person, split the audio, master the voice, and generate a lookalike.
Social Engineering: Some scammers may lack the technical knowledge and finding to orchestrate a biometric hack, but what if you can get data from a person without hacking the person’s computer or mobile phone? Social engineering includes phishing tactics and other romance scams that are used by scammers to obtain sensitive information like passwords, email addresses, and financial data. Social engineering is powerful and has proven to be incredibly successful. Stories abound of people who thought they were sending bank account details to lovers outside the country. But social engineering does not only occur over dating websites. People can target you physically, get close and gain your trust just so that you can tell them personal stuff and reveal sensitive information about yourself. It’s common for partners to spy on each other, steal sensitive information and use their biometric or security data to access their banks.
How to Protect Yourself from Biometric Hacks
1. Set Up Two-factor Authentication
Again, nothing really beats 2FA protocols. Most times, you override your basic security with biometric access. While this gives you ease when you navigate through your phone, you can set up 2FA for specific apps like your social media and banking apps. The deeper your security level, the harder a hacker will be able to access your devices and accounts.
You can set up an app lock for your WhatsApp and still set up a password lock before access. You can also create an app lock for your bank app and set up extra security, like token requests, before a transaction can be approved on your account. Yes, doing these will mean providing tons of information before you can send funds from your bank app; however, it makes your most important apps secure.
2. Run Background Checks on People Who Will Get Close to You
Social engineering is real, and many people are victims of phishing. If you meet an online friend on Tinder, it’s important to vet the friend. Other than the fact that people lie about themselves and can be creeps, you might be making friends with a scammer and a thief who lies about their location.
How Radaris Can Help
Radaris can help you run intensive and extensive background checks on your online friends and lover. Radaris has over a billion records, including names, businesses, and addresses, and can help you fish out businesses and names with malicious intents. Love runs on trust, and people, especially strangers who try to get close to you, should earn the trust. Unfortunately, some people are masters of manipulation, and while you deal with an affair with all honesty, your supposed partner may just be manipulating you into thinking you are in a love affair. Thieves and scammers abound, online and offline, and with Radaris, you will be surprised at what you find about people. People are not always what they claim or seem to be!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I protect myself from organizational breaches?
Technically, yes. You cannot protect Apple from getting breached, but you can set up 2FAs and ensure not to use the same password for different accounts.
Are there safer forms of biometrics?
There are biometric protocols that change passwords every few days, depending on the settings. Generally, biometrics are safe but do not be complacent. Always use two-factor authentication. With this option, you may be more secure against biometric device hacking.