With the addition of a fingerprint reader to the new iPhone 5s, biometric security has become all the rage in data and personal security. While it has been around in the consumer electronics world since 2004 in IBM’s ThinkPad laptops, Apple’s public presence has made many more people aware of the potential (flaws) of the technology.
The premise of biometric security is that an individual can be recognized and identified by their unique physical traits and characteristics. Existing technology includes methods to identify individuals using fingerprints, facial features, retinal composition, voice analysis and DNA. In theory these methods of identification are more foolproof than a conventional password or code, because they are inherent traits of one individual. It may no longer be necessary to have multiple passwords if your fingerprint can prove who you are. However if these traits are replicated, then your entire security is compromised.
Advanced biometrics can improve our ease of access to both devices and information, but with the construction of a 1.5 billion dollar NSA data center in Utah, your functional privacy and anonymity may be lost, as every single fingerprint scan on your new phone could be tracked.