March 12, 2024

Anonybit Team

Can Biometrics Be Hacked?


In the realm of Biometric Authentication Techniques, the concern surrounding the vulnerability of biometric data to hacking is a pressing issue. Imagine relying on your fingerprint or facial recognition to secure sensitive information, only to find out that it is not as foolproof as you thought. This could lead to devastating consequences, making understanding and preventing such breaches crucial. In this blog, we delve into the question of how biometrics can be hacked and equip you with the knowledge to safeguard your identity effectively.

To help you comprehend and avoid biometric hacking, Anonybit offers an innovative decentralized data platform that streamlines these processes. With Anonybit’s solution, you can secure your biometric data and improve your understanding of the risks involved in biometric authentication techniques.

What Is Biometric Hacking?

person hacking sensitive data - Can Biometrics Be Hacked

Biometrics hacking is the unauthorized access to a person’s biometric data. This attack can be carried out by interception of the data during its transmission or by obtaining it from a storage location such as a SQLdatabase.

Once the attacker has obtained the biometric data, they can use it to impersonate the victim and gain access to their accounts or confidential information. Biometric data is unique to each individual and cannot be easily changed, making it a valuable target for hackers.

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Can Biometric Authentication Be Bypassed?

According to an article published on eWeek, biometric security measures can be hacked, and it is genuinely hard to do. The article shows that faking a fingerprint or iris is much more challenging than guessing a password or PIN. More importantly, state-of-the-art biometric liveness detection systems are designed to catch presentation attacks and deep fake attacks. The bigger risk comes from injection attacks, where a stolen biometric data set can be intercepted into a session, similar to a man-in-the-middle attack, where the attacker secretly relays and possibly alters a session amongst two parties who believe they are directly communicating.

How Do Biometrics Get Hacked? 5 Common Ways Explained  laptop with a flag - Can Biometrics Be Hacked

There are various ways for biometric data to get hacked, ranging from criminals breaching databases to copying and reproducing someone’s face as a mask or using deepfakes to copy their voiceprint.

Let’s take a look at some real-life methods, as evidenced by historic hacks and research:

1. Database Breaches

Biometric indicator information is stored in databases. This is a fundamental part of an authentication system, as the user’s live data must be compared to that held on a database. However, databases can be hacked, leaked, and compromised through poorly implemented security.

2. Fake/Synthetic Biometrics

Biometrics can also be synthetic. An example comes from 2013 when Apple famously suffered a fingerprint hack. Two days after the firm released the iPhone 5S, Germany’s Chaos Computer Club published a video online showing how they had bypassed the smartphone’s security lock screen using a fake fingerprint.

3. AI-Generated Deep fakes

General adversarial neural networks (GANs) and other technologies have been successfully used by criminals and researchers to reproduce the likeness of someone to bypass checks convincingly. This can include voice deep fakes and video content.

4. Stolen Biometrics

Depending on the biometric marker utilized, it may be possible to create a copy of someone’s biometric data by, for example, by sourcing markers from stolen photos or videos of them. Using liveness detection technologies alleviate this risk.

5. Bypassing Checks

Sometimes, a savvy fraudster will find loopholes to bypass biometric checks put in place to help with accessibility or simply as a mistake. For example, they could opt for the “alternative” authentication method to a video call for users who don’t have a working camera, which could be easier to fool – for instance, this could give them the option to use knowledge questions to authenticate themselves. This is the most common attack vector at a help desk.

Preventing Fraud and Takeover with Passwordless Authentication

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 Great Measures To Mitigate Biometric Hacking

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1. Choose Reputable Providers

Opt for trusted providers with robust, enhanced security technology. Research their data protection policies and ensure compliance with regulations like GDPR and the use of privacy-enhancing technologies

2. Implement security measures

Several security measures can be put in place to protect your business from biometrics hacking. This includes avoiding tokens and standard encryption methods linked to an individual that may be compromised or vulnerable to quantum computing risks. 

3. Stay up-to-date

One way to protect against identity theft and biometrics hacking is to stay current. By keeping abreast of the latest news and developments in identity theft and biometrics, you can be better prepared to defend yourself against these threats. Staying up-to-date can help you spot potential security risks before they occur.

What Are The Risks Associated With Biometric Hacking?

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The consequences of biometric hacking can be severe. Unlike passwords, biometric data is unique and cannot be changed once compromised, making it a valuable target for hackers.

Once a hacker has access to your biometric data, they can potentially impersonate you, leading to identity theft and other serious issues.

1. Data breach

Unauthorized access to biometric data can lead to significant data breaches, potentially exposing sensitive company information or client data.

2. Financial loss

Hackers might use stolen biometric data to carry out financial fraud, resulting in massive financial loss to the victim and/or business. Plus, the consequences of a data breach can lead to substantial financial loss due to the costs of managing the breach, legal liabilities, and potential fines for non-compliance with data protection regulations.

3. Reputation damage

A company that fails to protect biometric data may suffer a serious blow to its reputation, potentially losing customers’ trust and facing public backlash.

4. Operational disruption

Unauthorized access through biometric hacking can lead to significant operational disruptions, impacting productivity and efficiency.

5. Legal consequences

Entities could face legal consequences for failing to safeguard biometric data appropriately. This could lead to lawsuits, regulatory fines, and other legal issues.

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3 Hacked Biometrics Real-Life Cases

real world example - Can Biometrics Be Hacked

1. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management

In 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was the victim of a massive data breach in which the personal information of more than 21 million people was compromised. The hackers were able to access fingerprint data belonging to 5.6 million individuals, making it one of the largest known breaches of biometric data. This hack raised serious concerns about the security of biometric data and the potential for it to be used for identity theft or other malicious purposes.

2. Deepfake Videos Used for Tax Fraud

Still, in China, an efficient biometric hack was invented by criminals at this time, and it came to light in 2021. Two fraudsters purchased thousands of facial images on the dark web and used machine learning modules to create deep fake videos of these people. From there, they set up an elaborate scheme where a shell company issued fake invoices owed to these individuals, ultimately defrauding the Chinese tax authorities for the equivalent of $76.2 million.

3. The Android Biometric Flaw

In 2017, a security researcher discovered a flaw in how Android devices handle fingerprint data. The researcher found it possible to extract fingerprint data from an Android device and use it to create a 3D-printed replica of a person’s fingerprint. The researcher also found that the Android fingerprint data was not encrypted, which made it easier to steal.

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Book A Free Demo To Learn More About Our Integrated Identity Management Platform

At Anonybit, we help companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud with our decentralized biometrics technology. With our decentralized biometrics framework, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, help desk authentication, and more. 

Comprehensive Security Solutions for Companies

We are on a mission to protect companies from data breaches, account takeovers, synthetic identity on the rise, privacy regulations, and digital transformation. 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 authentication and 1:N matching for lookups and deduplication

Balancing Privacy and Security with Anonybit’s Integrated Platform

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, reduce account takeover fraud, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit. Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

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