August 12, 2023

Anonybit Team

8 Best Practices For Maximum Biometric Data Security & Protection


In a world where security breaches seem all too common, protecting our personal data has never been more critical. Biometric authentication techniques are among the most secure methods for safeguarding valuable information. Ensuring data protection and user security, these techniques offer a cutting-edge solution to enhancing biometric data security. This insightful article will delve into the realm of biometric data security, providing valuable insights to help you gain a comprehensive understanding of how to protect your sensitive information effectively.

Anonybit’s identity management platform offers invaluable support for individuals seeking to protect their biometric data efficiently. Embracing innovative solutions to keep your data secure, this platform will guide you in understanding the nuances of biometric security and data protection, aligning with the primary goal of safeguarding your biometric information and other sensitive data and digital assets.

What Is Biometrics?

Biometrics are biological measurements—or physical characteristics—that can be used to identify individuals. Fingerprint mapping, facial recognition, palm recognition, voice recognition and iris scans are all forms of biometric technology, but these are just the most recognized options.

Researchers also claim the shape of an ear, how someone sits and walks, unique body odors, and even heart beats are other unique identifiers. These traits further define biometrics.

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What Is Biometric Data?

woman going through eye scan - Biometric Data Security

Biometric data is a type of data that describes and classifies measurable human characteristics. This is a process called biometrics. Biometric data is typically captured, stored, and processed as templates. A biometric template is a mathematical representation of a person’s physical or behavioral characteristics. An algorithm converts the original biometric sample to a binary representation to create a template. Biometric templates are also known as feature vectors.

Authentication vs. Identification

Biometric data can be used for authentication purposes, but it is also commonly used for identification purposes. Authentication is when you prove that you are who you say you are (for example, by providing a password or fingerprint). Identification is when you look up a template in an existing repository to see if the person has been registered before (for example, by comparing their fingerprint against a database of fingerprints).

Active vs. Passive Collection

There are two main ways that biometric data is collected: passively and actively. When biometric data is collected passively, the subject does not have to do anything in order for their biometric information to be collected at all—it just happens because of some inherent property of the subject (like their voice). When biometric data is collected actively, there has to be some sort of interaction between the subject and the device that will collect this information (like an iris scanner).

Decentralized Biometrics with Anonybit

At Anonybit, our decentralized biometrics system design helps companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud. With a decentralized biometrics solution, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, and help desk authentication. We are on a mission to protect companies from data breaches, account takeovers, and synthetic identity fraud.

To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 biometric authentication and 1:N biometric matching to prevent duplicates, synthetics, and blocklisted identities 

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, enable strong authentication to eliminate account takeovers, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit.

Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

5 Common Types Of Biometrics Used For Authentication

person on phone trying to unlock - Biometric Data Security

Biometrics methods are used for authentication and include the most prevalent types of biometric identifiers. Here are the types of biometric authentication currently available.

1. Fingerprint Recognition

Fingerprint recognition is one of the oldest and most widely used biometric authentication methods. It analyzes the unique patterns and ridges present on an individual’s fingertips to verify identity. Fingerprint sensors are commonly found on smartphones, laptops, and access control systems. 

2. Iris Recognition

Iris recognition uses unique patterns in the iris or the colored part of the eye to authenticate individuals. Compared to other biometric modalities, iris scans are highly accurate and less prone to false positives.. This technology is commonly used in high-security environments such as airports and government buildings.

3. Facial Recognition

Facial recognition technology analyzes and maps facial featuresto verify identity. It can be used in various contexts, including smartphone unlocking, payments, and airport security checkpoints. Issues about the potential for bias and privacy violations associated with facial recognition technology have been raised. 

4. Voice Recognition

Voice recognition relies on the unique characteristics of an individual’s voice, such as pitch, tone, and cadence, to authenticate identity. Voice biometrics are widely used worldwide, accounting for 15% of telephone banking systems, customer service, and voice-activated devices such as smart speakers.

5. Behavioral Biometrics

In 2022, behavioral biometrics hit a global U.S. $1.45 billion market size, projected to grow at a 27.3% CAGR from 2023 to 2030. The behavioral biometrics method analyzes patterns in human behavior, such as typing rhythm, mouse movement, and gait, to authenticate users. Unlike physical biometrics, which are static, behavioral biometrics capture dynamic characteristics that can change over time. This form of authentication is often used for continuous authentication and fraud detection in online banking and e-commerce platforms.

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Biometric Data Security Challenges And Considerations

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Expanded Attack Vector

Stolen biometric data can be misused by bad actors in many ways, including accessing bank accounts or unwanted surveillance. In the event of a data breach, the repercussions of biometric data breaches can be severe. Unlike changing a compromised password, biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or retinal patterns cannot be altered.

The 2019 breach of Suprema Biostar 2 underscores this vulnerability. Inadequate server security exposed over a million fingerprints, facial recognition data, and personal information. Secure storage and robust encryption are imperative safeguards against such breaches.

Storage & Encryption

Storing biometric data elevates an organization’s data risk profile. It should be encrypted and stored in secure environments to prevent unauthorized access. Opting for more advanced storage technology like Anonybit’s technology, where data is stored in the form of anonymized bits in a multi cloud environment can significantly enhance security.

Consent & Privacy

Collecting, storing, and using biometric data for internal purposes raises privacy concerns. This necessitates transparent policies and clear consent mechanisms. Protecting users’ privacy necessitates a clear understanding of data collection, storage, and usage. Transparency and obtaining informed consent are pivotal in addressing these concerns.

False Positives and Negatives

Despite advancements, biometric systems are not infallible. False positives, granting access incorrectly, and false negatives, denying legitimate users, are potential pitfalls. Understanding the expected performance rates and incorporating fallback mechanisms is important to a successful biometric deployment. 

5 Best Practices For Maximum Biometric Data Security

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1. Choose Reputable Providers

Opting for reputable providers with robust security technology is essential when considering biometric authentication solutions. Before committing to a provider, it’s vital to research their data protection policies, ensuring they comply with regulations such as GDPR and utilize the latest privacy-enhancing technologies. By choosing trusted providers, individuals and organizations can have confidence in the security of their biometric data.

2. Multi-Factor Authentication

Integrating multi-factor authentication (MFA) with biometric solutions enhances security by requiring additional verification steps beyond biometrics alone. This practice is commonly used by financial institutions, like banks, to safeguard online banking services. With MFA, access to biometric data is only granted after successful identity verification through multiple channels, ensuring maximum protection against unauthorized access.

3. Pinpoint High-Risk Data Access Issues

Efficiently identifying and resolving high-risk data access issues is crucial for maintaining the security of biometric data. Organizations can strengthen their access rights management by detecting and investigating unauthorized access to sensitive biometric data and determining data sources with overly permissive access. This proactive approach aligns with a zero-trust strategy, enhancing data protection by implementing a least-privileged model.

4. Regularly Update Devices and Software

Regular updates for devices, operating systems, and applications are essential to minimize vulnerabilities that could compromise biometric data security. For example, healthcare organizations prioritize updating medical devices, operating systems, and software to protect biometric data used for patient identification and medical research. By staying current with security patches, organizations can mitigate risks associated with outdated technology.

5. Prioritize & Remediate Your Data Risks

Centralizing efforts to detect, investigate, and address critical data risks enhances the overall security of biometric data. By assigning severity and priority based on various factors like data sensitivity and accessibility, organizations can streamline remediation processes. Continuous monitoring for suspicious activities, identifying potential insider threats, and thorough analysis contribute to maintaining robust data protection measures.

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What Regulations Currently Govern Biometric Data Security And Protection?

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The regulatory landscape for biometric data protection currently lies in international, national, and state laws. Although it is not a main area of focus (such as AI regulation), many cyber laws have subsections related to biometric data security.

GDPR, BIPA, and Biometric Data Protection

Key frameworks like the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set strict guidelines for biometric data processing, while other regulations, like the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) in the United States, were among the first laws to specifically address biometric privacy.

The EU AI Act and Biometric Use with AI 

In the recently passed EU Artificial Intelligence Act (EU AI Act), part of its broader strategy is to regulate biometric use within the context of artificial intelligence. The use of AI in biometrics includes automated facial recognition or immediate analysis of user behaviors using biometrics. The EU AI Act attempts to limit the use of biometrics with AI systems to in the context of automated decisioning to protect individual privacy and freedom of rights.

The Future of Biometric Regulation

Within the next decade, users and businesses can expect more biometric technology regulation to pass as data privacy becomes a major topic of discussion amidst rapid technological innovation. It’s even more important to get ahead of the technology as development continues to ensure that rules are established to prevent user abuse and exploitation.

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