Killing the Need for Passwords With Biometrics [Bloomberg]
Biometric technology uses our unique body traits to establish identity, replacing passwords as the log in criteria for our devices. Learn more about this rapidly growing technology. 


Do Now

Should we continue to develop more advanced biometric technologies, or should we stop and simply use older methods of security, such as passwords? #DoNowBiometrics

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Introduction

In recent years, the development of biometric technology in our everyday lives has grown tremendously. Biometric verification analyzes physical characteristics that are unique to each individual as a means of authentication. A popular example of biometric technology is Touch ID found on Apple iPhones and iPads. Touch ID has the ability to unlock a user’s phone with just a scan of their fingerprints. Additionally, Touch ID is an integral part of Apple Pay, which allows users to pay with their phones instead of carrying around payment cards. To purchase an item, users simply hold their device up to a wireless payment terminal while holding their finger on TouchID. Using their fingerprint to verify the use of the payment card, transactions are completed in an instant without ever pulling out their wallets. As society becomes more reliant on biometrics as a means of authentication, the demand for protection against theft has been subject to debate.

What Are Biometrics?

With technology progressing at an exponential rate, biometric technology has become more prevalent in our lives. Biometrics utilizes body parts that show minimal change over time; common biometric identifiers include fingerprint scans, retinal scans, and voice recognition. For example, a fingerprint scanner takes a multitude of images of a fingerprint, mapping out ridges and curves. The map is then converted into code that is stored on the device or cloud database for future verification. Biometric information is stored as data, similarly to passwords, but instead of letters and numbers, patterns and characteristics are saved as a series of numbers. Essentially, an encrypted image or sound acts as a password. Biometrics has become very popular because of how easy and secure it makes accessing high security items, such as bank accounts. With advances in biometric security features, we may soon be paying for our groceries using our earlobes.

The Debate

Biometric security has been regarded as the most secure identification measure due to its life-long sustainability and uniqueness to a person. In other words, biometric identifiers are nearly impossible to fraud, and are therefore more secure compared to the traditional password method that is designed using attackable software. In a New York Times article titled “From Man to Machine”,  it is calculated that the chances of two people having identical irises is about 1 in 10^78, which drastically reduces the probability of yielding false identification. In addition to accountability, biometric security is often favored because of its convenience and efficiency. Imagine you’re standing in line for Christmas shopping, wouldn’t it be much faster if everyone can make transactions only by pressing their thumbs on a small device?

While the use of biometric authentication would revolutionize everyday life with added efficiency and convenience, it would be accompanied by an increased privacy risk. According to a recent article in Wired, while passwords and traditional security measures are private by nature, “biometrics… are inherently public.” Our bodies are on display all the time; body parts used for biometric identification, such as fingers and eyes, can be accessed easily in comparison to protected passwords and security badges. The Biometric News Portal also points out that once “a set of biometric data be compromised, it is compromised forever.” The possibility of government misuse of this technology is another downside to the widespread use of biometric security. The FBI’s biometric database, which includes criminal and noncriminal photos and fingerprints, has been criticized for its infringement of privacy according to a 2014 article from Fast Company. Overall, the threat biometrics poses to personal privacy may outweigh the convenience it brings.

What do you think should be done with biometric technology? Should we continue to expand on it, or should we stop and simply use older methods of security, such as passwords? 


More Resources

ARTICLE: Someday Soon, You May Pay Your Restaurant Bill With A Retina Scan (KQED)

ARTICLE: Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks (Scientific American)

ARTICLE: The Macbook Pro’s Most Important New Feature? Touch ID  (Wired)


KQED Education partners with phenomenal organizations to bring you the Science Do Now activities. This post was written by the following youth from the California Academy of Sciences’ TechTeens program:

Alexander B., Arianna W.,  Cole P., Alexander Y., Jasjeet J., Jo T., Maia A., Mathew L., Michelle C., and June H.

The TechTeens are youth leaders who use digital media to develop and communicate science stories for the public.

  • Karla

    I think that biometric technology is definitely something really cool that we have developed over time. As far as I knew all we could use was our fingerprints to unlock certain things I had never heard of using your eyes. I understand that it is almost impossible for anyone else to have the same exact features as you, but the fact if it were ever to be compromised then what would we do? How do we fix that issue? I think we should keep looking into biometrics technology and developing it even further to where it could not be compromised. But we also shouldn’t get rid of having passwords. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/biometric-security-poses-huge-privacy-risks/ this article talks about possible risk.

    • TJ

      I believe you could store the data locally so it’s not retrievable. That would help keep it private. Although if you lose your phone somebody could hack it.
      #MyCMSTArgs

    • Rigoberto Lomas-Velazco

      I agree with you passwords should be kept around so as a backup for biometrics. I almost don’t trust Biometrics because like the article stated the chance of having two identical iris’s is only 1 in 1078. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you compare that to the billions of people there are on earth, the amount of people with the same feature increases drastically.

      • Alisha

        I think passwords should be kept as a backup as well, that’s a good point. We should never completely get rid of older ways #MyCMSTArgs

  • TJ

    I find it unnerving that people are willing to give out their biological data for the sake of not putting in a password. Perhaps it never occurs to them that that data is stored and is retrievable? I didn’t think passwords were much of an issue.

    On a different level I think the biometric technology is great. I feel it has a lot of potential and will probably be one of those things that ends up being used on things that haven’t even been conceived of yet. But the data retention needs to be local. It shouldn’t be something that can be retrieved remotely by any random telephone tech or hacker that might have an interest.

    And of course there is the unfettered collection of any and all data by the government, for what purposes I assume could only be to satiate a data archivist’s fetish. A collection the likes of which I presume will see minimal oversight by the incoming administration.
    (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/biometric-security-poses-huge-privacy-risks/

    Ultimately I support the technology of biometrics. I believe it has a lot of great uses. I just think giving away your biometric data to private companies for the sake of not having to type 4 numbers into your phone to unlock it is silly.

    #MyCMSTArgs

    • hayleyhibbens

      I completely agree with your first statement in this comment. I don’t think people realize that by sharing their biological information with technology, they are essentially making it retrievable for potential hackers and for the government. While I do think that biometrics is a very impressive step in technology, I believe we need to be more careful with the information that we share.

    • Rigoberto Lomas-Velazco

      Your argument makes a lot of sense and I have pretty much the same opinion on it. Changing passwords every few month does take time but it keeps your information safe, but there are those that don’t want to spend the time doing that. So I guess biometrics would be safe and more convenient for those who don’t want to deal with the hassle of maintaining passwords.

    • Alisha

      I agree! If people are in support of biometrics just because it’s easier than typing in a passcode on their iPhones, that is ridiculous. That’s a lazy argument ! #MyCMSTArgs

      • Katie Henderson

        I think that its less about being lazy and more the fact that people have a hard time remembering passwords. We constantly have to have them resent in an email or reset on the website and the bio metrics makes everything safer and more convenient. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

    • Lauryn L.

      I agree that it is dangerous because hackers can retrieve that information. However, I do believe we are headed in the right direction with creating better security systems, but we do need to reform it to where it is not bio but more like fingerprints (Ex: iphone)

  • EndlessBeauty

    I don’t mind if we have biometric technology and the option of only using technology. I know with cell phones using your fingerprint to access your phone is a much faster way to get through your phone without having to type in your long password. In some situations when I need to quickly get to my phone with just a touch of my finger is great. I’ve never used fingerprints for banking or transactions, so I don’t know too much of the pros and cons from people’s personal opinions. In my opinion I wouldn’t do so, I don’t feel like it is safe to be able to access your personal banking information form a tap of your finger. #CMST255

  • hayleyhibbens

    Personally, I find it a bit unsettling that our biological data would be recorded and then later recognized by a piece of technology. I also don’t like the idea that the government would easily be able to get access to such personal information. I do think it is very exciting how far we have come with technology, but the constant updates are starting to seem a bit extreme and honestly unnecessary in my opinion. What is so outdated about having a coded password on our phone or a pin number on our debit cards? The human race needs to slow down and stop trying to one up everything that we do. It frustrates me that we can never be satisfied, we also need something more. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

    • Tanya Arevalo

      Hayley you made some valid points! There is nothing wrong or outdated about coded passwords or pin numbers. I think we should stop for a min and enjoy what we have. In one of my classes we where talking about how we are like little kids with very advance technology. We can barely communicate successful during face to face interaction now image how technology is affecting our communication. #CMST255 #DoNowBiometrics

  • Rigoberto Lomas-Velazco

    I don’t believe biometrric scanning is a better system than using the passwords we use today. for example if your biometric information is compromised then there’s no way to change it. It’s not like a password that can be changed if the old one has been compromised. The only real benefit is that we could stream line logging in and accessing different accounts. Also I’m not really sure how I feel about my biometric information being out used/tracked by companies.

    • Tanya Arevalo

      I agree with you Rigo, I don’t know how I feel about companies using my finger print as a form of payment or for access. This is something that I am sure will take effect in the future! I see it already taking effect in my home town at the college gymnasium.
      #CMST255 #DoNowBiometrics

    • CAStechteens

      Great Points! Have you ever forgotten your password? It can be quite frustrating when your unable to access your account. The use of biometrics allows you to skip this problem all together, because it is quite hard to forget your thumb.

  • Tanya Arevalo

    I think using Biometric for personal items such as laptops, house door, cars, cellphones is okay and it’s a safe thing to do since it’s for your own personal use. However, I don’t like the idea of companies having my finger print, such as the bank, stores, or schools. I know the Wrec (Chico State gym) uses your finger prints as access to get into the gym. It is fast and effective but not something I want to see expand in the future! #CMST255 #DoNowBiometrics

    • Lauren Rhude

      I agree with you. I just not comfortable with my fingerprint going to companies where they would store that data. If the government wanted that information, there would be a way they could potentially get access to 100,000’s peoples biometric data. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Keaton Hill

      I definitely agree with the point you made here. It is scary to think of the potential consequences that could come out of having your biometric data spread out in the world among numerous different companies and entities. I think that there needs to be some research done on this topic before we rush into new technology like this. I also think that legal protections may be necessary at some point, depending on how far this trend goes. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Kenny Clark

      I agree, and unfortunately many companies and banks already have millions of thumbprints from customers and members. I know my bank asked for a thumbprint when I opened an account. And businesses such as gun stores already are required to get your thumbprint as part of the paperwork that is involved in purchasing a firearm. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

    • Lauryn L.

      I agree. It is smart to use it for personal items and access to memberships but online is dangerous.

    • Kim Cuong Nguyen

      I agree that biometrics for personal items is a good thing. I think it would be great for biometric technology to develop, and individually we get the choice of using the new security tool or not. This would make it so that those that like biometrics technology to use the security program and those who has yet to trust it to keep their current security protocals. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

    • Katie Henderson

      I agree that biometric technology should stay within personal items only. The thought of a store or bank having facial recognition systems seems a little much. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

  • Alisha

    I do ultimately support biometric technology. I don’t think it’s worth it if it’s just for the convenience- people can stand in line a little longer, people can type a four digit code into their cell phones, people can have patience. The factor I like most about biometric technology is that is is “nearly impossible to fraud” (as the article says). I think that’s a cool piece of technology that can advance the way we do the simplest things (http://www.kqed.org/news/story/2015/01/06/153283/someday_soon_you_may_pay_your_restaurant_bill_with_a_retina_scan?source=npr&category=technology_). #MyCMSTArgs

    • Lauren Rhude

      I agree with you. The fact that biometric technology is “nearly impossible to fraud” does make it a reliable form of security. But i also agree with you when you say that it should be a convenience factor. #MyCMSTArgs

    • Keaton Hill

      I see what you’re saying about how biometric technology is hard to break into, Alisha. I agree with this point, especially after recently getting a new laptop that requires my face to log in, as I mentioned in my original comment. However, do be wary about how this data could be abused and/or stolen by other parties that have bad intentions. #MyCMSTArgs

  • Lauren Rhude

    I think biometric technology for things such as phones, laptops and other personal items is perfectly ok. If this technology was to be used for a convenience factor at stores or stored in a system for further convenience, that’s when it starts becoming a problem. When you use your fingerprint to gain access to your phone, you also have to set up a numerical password along with your fingerprint. That is why I think having this technology on personal items is ok, simply because you do have a backup code in case the technology is flawed or compromised. I think if this technology was to expend, there could be personal security issues at hand. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

  • Keaton Hill

    While I find the field of biometric technology fascinating, I also worry about potential oversights. I do think that biometric technology can make some things much more simple, such as accessing your own technology and/or data, and I generally think that this is the way a lot of technology is heading. I also think that this kind of technology is useful in that it also makes it very hard for people to break into one’s personal items, such as a laptop or a phone. For example, my laptop uses its camera to recognize my face to log me in, with no password necessary, so without me there it would be near impossible to get into my laptop. However, my main concern with biometric technology is the potential for our biological data to be stolen or be abused by governments, whether it be America’s or a foreign country’s. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

    • Kenny Clark

      I agree with some of your negative points. Having a biological password would make it very difficult for someone to access your devices or accounts under your permission. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

  • Kenny Clark

    Although this technology could make accessing our devices and unlocking doors much easier, I believe there could be serious consequences from using biometrics such as fingerprints for all aspects of life. Forging a fingerprint is not necessarily easy, but it is possible. So there is still a chance that your information could be hacked. I believe biometrics should advance, but not become a primary way of allowing access into accounts and other securities. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

    • Kim Cuong Nguyen

      I agree that there are security risks to biometrics, but I think there are higher security risks with our current security infrastructure. If a person really really wants to hack a person that bad they would do it, or at least attempt to do it. Biometrics would make it more difficult for them to perform the hacks compared to the current systems in place. That’s why I think biometrics would be very useful and safe. #MyCMSTArgs #DoNowBiometrics

    • Shelby

      This is a good point. Maybe keep the best of both worlds an option. Use a bit of the old school way, paired with biometrics. Unfortunately, the solo use of biometrics would make me feel a bit insecure having that information accessible by who knows who. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

  • Bonnie Maye

    Biometrics will make accessing items easier, but with that comes more opportunities for potential violence as well. #DoNowBiometrics

  • Lauryn L.

    I think that it is very cool that we can develop higher security systems. With all of the intelligent hackers and ip addresses being traced, we need that protection for our privacy. However, I believe it could be more dangerous if we were to give out so much information just for a “password” to our social media.

  • Ariana Robles

    I think that we should have different ways to identify our selves to log into things. Because with how easy it is to hack accounts that just use a password and anybody can figure out a few of the security questions usually you can find some of that information on a persons face book. Most people use special dates if it is a number code so things like their birthday is open to the public. People always make a big fuss about privacy so it makes sense that we would find higher tech ways to make sure our stuff is safe from the eyes of the unwanted.

    • marjon blount

      No matter what technology it is Ariana I feel like theree are still ways to find loop holes in the system making them withhold flaws making them hackable or at stake for viruses #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

  • Kim Cuong Nguyen

    I think biometrics is safe and will be very convenient. According to http://www.biometricsinstitute.org/pages/types-of-biometrics.html biometrics uses the person’s certain features like fingerprints, retina recognition, face recognition, etc. Because biometrics is person specific, I think it would be very difficult for others to steal information because they wouldn’t be able to access it unless they have the same face or finger prints. All in all, I feel like biometrics is safer than the current security systems that are easily accessible to us. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

    • Carolyn Gurstein

      I agree that biometrics are way more safe in secure and I think less hacks will occur with it in place. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

  • JeffCMST

    Personally I feel we should stay with the old school method of just creating passwords and actually having to physically type or say something rather than having my fingerprint or other types of biometric systems in order to detect us. I say we should just stay with old school methods because knowing that someone or business has that type of information about me just freaks me.it gets me worried because their systems in which they keep information could be hacked and used in a bad way. That’s why I would prefer the old school way of things. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

    • Shelby

      I completely agree with your stance on this issue. It seems that if the government or big businesses has access to getting their hands on this information, then they would do everything they could to take advantage of it. I agree that it would not make me feel very secure either. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

      • marjon blount

        I agree with you jeff with this advance in technology, makes it easier for government to be able to have access to our private lives and information. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

  • Katie Henderson

    Whether we want it to happen or not, technology (including biometric systems) will continue to develop over the years. These identification systems are very accurate and much better than the traditional password method. I feel like I was always forgetting my passwords to everything, which led me to use the same one for everything, which doesnt make me feel very secure. Knowing only my fingerprint can access my phone puts me at ease and I think we should continue to develop these systems. http://www.biometrics.gov/documents/biointro.pdf Here is a great place to learn some more information on biometrics. #DoNowBiometrics#MyCMSTArgs

    • Carolyn Gurstein

      I totally agree that we need to accept that technology will continue to develop and that having something like a fingerprint is way more secure than a password. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

  • Shelby

    Personally, I have never been a fan of the technological advances that the last decade or so has brought to our society. Sure, I use them and I know I benefit from them in certain minor ways; however, there are just certain types of technology that do not need to be updated, and I believe this is one of them. One could argue that “it will make shopping line quicker and more efficient during Christmas,” and thats honestly just a sign of the type of traits and mentality that past technologies have thrust upon our citizens, and now they are just greedy and eager for more and more upgrades. I believe security is a much more important issue to keep protected and should not be made sketchy just so individuals can stop carrying wallets around. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

    • CAStechteens

      That’s an interesting point. However, have you considered how much time is saved with the development of these new technologies? Perhaps society can benefit from this saved time by focusing on more pressing matters rather than worry about less important activities such as paying for groceries.

  • marjon blount

    I believe the technological advance we have experienced in the last decade allows us to live longer as we don’t have to waste our time on petty things in life such as passcode and other outdated technologies it allows us to move at a faster pace in terms letting us get more done on a daily basis i am all for this new technology, no matter what the technology is it can be hacked or get viruses. #DoNowBiometrics MyCMSTArgs

  • Carolyn Gurstein

    The reason we create newer technologies is because our older ones need improvements. If improvements are needed then why not try to technologically advance them? The world is changing at a fast pace, just read this article here and see that something as simple as paying a bill at a restaurant might become simpler http://www.kqed.org/news/story/2015/01/06/153283/someday_soon_you_may_pay_your_restaurant_bill_with_a_retina_scan?source=npr&category=technology . I think touch ID is a great invention and more secure than a password that you can break. I’m excited to see what’s to come for our world. #DoNowBiometrics #MyCMSTArgs

  • Lauren Bixby

    Biometric technology is the new credit card, in a sense. Millions of americans are using this new technology to surpass conventional banking methods, like swiping a credit card. Now, individuals can simply use their thumb print. Many of the new devices today only require a fingerprint to access them, such as many of Apple’s devices. But there is major downsides to only using a fingerprint to secure all of your secrets.”The problem with fingerprints is that you can never change it, and you don’t know how it will be used in the future, so that limits your willingness to try new things that are driven by that thumbprint once it’s been stolen,” (Linzon, 2015). What this is saying is that unlike traditional passwords, once you rely on fingerprint technology you can never change that lock once someone gets a hold of it. It is not impossible for someone to hack your pad print. And while it is also not impossible for someone to hack your password, at least you can change it afterwards. “Certainly it’s possible that someone steals your fingerprint,” (Barrett, 2016). This comes from Wired, and it is not the only reporting source that agrees that biometrics can be compromised. “In addition, once your face, iris or DNA profile becomes a digital file, that file will be difficult to protect… It’s easy to replace a swiped credit card, but good luck changing the patterns on your iris” (Scientific American, 2016). A recent article from the Scientific American also claims that other biometric details aside from your fingerprint can also be stolen. I don’t think biometric technology is worth the risk. Swiping a credit card is hardly difficult and it’s worth it, if it means not having your virtual identity stolen. You can replace credit cards and passwords, you can’t make yourself a new thumb print or a new Iris pattern.

    • CAStechteens

      Insightful point Lauren! That’s the main concern with biometric security features and for good reason. In 2015, the data of millions of fingerprints was stolen from US government networks. Although it is not very hard to steal someone’s fingerprint, it is extremely difficult to present the fingerprint pattern to a biometric security system and bypass further security features that check for “aliveness.” However, it is still possible to circumvent these added security features and use someone else’s fingerprint. In order to make biometrics more secure, companies should utilize retina scanners, since retina patterns are much harder to steal than fingerprints.

  • Nick H.

    Yes, I believe that biometric technology is worth the security risk. “Already, companies like Apple and Samsung have implemented fingerprint-scanning features in their latest smartphones” (Linzon, 2015, Someday Soon, Your May Pay Your Restaurant Bill With A Retina Scan). More people and companies are putting biometric technology into their electronic devices every day. ”In fact, fingerprint identification has become a staple among almost all flagship smartphones.” (Barrett, 2016, The MacBook Pro’s Most Important New Feature? Touch ID). There are more uses of this new technology every day and there hasn’t been a security threat yet. “Touch ID will allow more and more payments that are both safer and more convenient” (Barrett, 2016, The MacBook Pro’s Most Important New Feature? Touch ID). There is no question that biometric technology makes it easier and faster to do tasks like logging into your phone or paying for groceries. Large corporations such as apple are telling the consumers that these new technologies are safe to use and I believe these companies wouldn’t release this technology unless it was safe. In the future for added security maybe there can be multiple tests to identify the user. A retina scan and a fingerprint scan combined are quicker and easier than digging out a credit card out of your wallet.

  • Logan S.

    Biometric technology is used today on many items. These include doors, computers, and even cell phones. “Biometric technology uses our unique body traits to establish identity” (Bloomberg, 2016, Killing the Need for Passwords With Biometrics). This technology is uniques to each and every person. It replaces passwords that could be guessed, obtained, or even hacked into with your own personal fingerprint. There are many advantages to this. “Biometric security has been regarded as the most secure identification measure due to its life-long sustainability and uniqueness to a person” (Bloomberg, 2016, The Debate). In order for someone to get into your phone they would need the owner’s fingerprint. This make biometric identifiers nearly impossible to fraud. “It is calculated that the chances of two people having the identical irises is about 1 in 1078” (Bloomberg, 2016, The Debate). The possibility of 1078 people trying to get into your phone is nearly close to 0%. Apple also has added features to help you track down your phone if and when you do indeed lose it. Someone is allowed only 5 attempts at unlocking a phone before it becomes locked. With this all being said, the possibility of someone being able to get into your phone is close to impossible.

  • Emma Lynn

    Using biometric technology is key to creating a faster and more efficient society. It is also “In other words, biometric identifiers are nearly impossible to fraud, and are therefore more secure compared to the traditional password method that is designed using attackable software.” (California Academy of Sciences, 2016). There is little chance of fraud with the security technology has. Credit cards and passwords are not very safe “Interest in this area has been driven, in part, by what seems to be a never-ending series of warnings about the problems with traditional credit cards and passwords.” (Linzon, 2015). Passwords are easy to steal and hard to keep track of, “Do you know what suffers from none of those deficiencies? Your fingerprint. And with Touch ID, that’s what you can now use to unlock your Mac, pay for items online, and even replace the bulk of your passwords altogether.” (Barrett, 2016). With touch ID being used as opposed to passwords there is less risk of having passwords stolen or forgotten. Out in the world people could be able to pay for things with just a finger print as well, limiting the ability to steal credit cards, or cash. “Identity theft, fraud and terrorism are real problems. Used properly, biometrics could help protect against them.” (Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks, n.d.). With biometric technology we could reduce crime, and live more efficiently as a society.

  • Katelyn Olson

    Throughout the years, many things have brought up the idea of Biometric technology, from movies that use it for high security jobs to Apple’s Touch ID. Their goal, Jared Linzon says, is to, “replace your need for schlepping around a credit card” (Linzon 2015). In reality, the idea of not having to carry around a thin piece of plastic that weighs close to nothing could increase your risk of getting your bank account drained, you would just need to get hacked. It is not only your bank account that is in danger, Oliver Munday tells us, “Biometrics could turn existing surveillance systems into something categorically new—something more powerful and much more invasive” (Munday 2016). Brian Barrett, writing about Apple’s latest MacBook Pro, says, “Passwords are and always have been a necessary nightmare. They’re too hard to remember, too easy to crack” (Barrett 2016). Although passwords can sometimes be pesky to users, they also give us privacy and may help in case of an emergency. It is well known that the law enforcement agencies will go through your phone or computer (given a warrant) if you are suspected of a crime or you are an active victim. If somebody is not right there to give away the password, they can easily hack it, but with biometric technology, it might not be as easy. I believe that Biotechnology is not worth the risk of security breach or the effort it would take.

  • Mason Buck

    In today’s world, electronic banking is the new norm, and people can now pay with phones instead of taking out their wallets. But how have we managed to keep this so secure? The answer is biometrics. Biometrics is “The science of measuring features or functions of the human body to establish your identity.” (Bloomberg, 2014) Biometrics has grown in popularity of the past few years with things like Apple’s Touch ID, (Barrett, 2016) but while biometrics can be extraordinarily useful, the risks that come with it are extraordinarily dangerous.
    In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting phone records in bulk. This was ruled unconstitutional and was discontinued. A government agency violated the rights of its own citizens, how do we know they won’t do it again with biometrics? Millions of Americans are already in the FBI’s biometric database and more programs with the potential for abuse are popping up all over the country. Take the Domain Awareness System, a surveillance system in New York City. “Domain Awareness System, a network of 3,000 surveillance cameras in New York City. Currently if someone commits a crime, cops can go back and review sections of video. Equip the system with facial-recognition technology, however, and the people behind the controls can actively track you throughout your daily life.” (Scientific American, 2013) These programs can easily harm Americans rights if we are not careful.
    Biometrics is a promising field, but one that must be explored and implemented properly if it is to work without infringing on American’s privacy.

  • Gabriella

    I think that we should continue to develop more advanced biometric technologies because it can stop many security threats. According to the California Academy of Sciences (2016), passwords, pins and usernames are all hard to remember and for those looking for them to use for the wrong reasons fairly easy to find. So they think that using biometric technology will improve safety and make it easier for everyone to access their private accounts. But others think that it will jeopardize security and leave everyone vulnerable (Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks, 2014, para. 1). They also think that it will turn into a more powerful security system, but more invasive (Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks, 2014, para. 4). There have been ways that you are able to pay for things wherever you go, you have checks, credit, debit, cash; and now you can pay with your fingerprint on your smartphone. Now people are predicting that you will be able to pay with by using a retina scan (Linzon, 2015, para. 3). I think that this would be a very convenient and easy way to go about thing but also weird. Yes biometrics will help everything become easier but who wants to put their eye up to a machine where millions of other people have put their eye? But I can also see how it can be secure. The only way for people to have your same retina is if they gouge your eye out. Apple is known for having millions of passwords on their computer for everything- some that are not very necessary- but now that has changes. The new Mac Book have fingerprints to get into everything. And Apple is now saying that it makes everything easier (Barrett, 2016, para. 4). Apple has made everything easier to get into your accounts, and so far it is working out. They haven’t had major security threats like some people would think. So overall I think that biometrics will make paying for things, and getting into accounts or everything else easier, so we should pursue biometric technologies because it is safer. (350)

  • Elaina Schupbach

    We should move away from using passwords for the protection of most of our private information. Biometric technology has become an increasingly more popular method of creating passwords and making things secure and more easily accessible. Some say that biometric technology is the next step up from what we have today. Making this switch has many benefits, especially the ability to replace things like plastic credit cards. “In the past year alone, more than 40 million credit card numbers have been stolen from Target and another 56 million from Home Depot”(Linzon 2015). Eliminating this possible threat for our security would be great. However, if more biometric security technology is used, it can create threats to commonly accepted notions of privacy and security. “Biometrics could turn existing surveillance systems into something categorically new—something more powerful and much more invasive”(The Editors 2014). To counter this argument, it has been noted that if you were using a fingerprint to unlock a device that identification information will be safe. “No matter what you use Touch ID for, your fingerprint won’t wind up on any computer but your own, making it nearly impossible to hack unless someone has direct access to your device”(Barrett 2016).

  • Oliver McCarthy

    Biometric security has become a large part of everyday society. It is literally at our fingertips at all times. Some debate has arisen over how safe biometric security, and that one in ten thousand seventy eight people have the same irises (OppenheimerFunds, 2016). But as far as the fingerprint goes the chances of someone have the same fingerprint is one is sixty four million, so out of our total population( seven million) roughly 109 people could possibly have the same fingerprint as one of yours. Some of our phone providers such as Apple and Samsung have used a method of paying which only involves a biometric approval to allow the transaction to go though (Linzon, 2015). This has revolutionized the way we shop. This new system could eradicate the use of wallets and credit cards. Biometric technology is the future, when the credit card came out the stipulations against it were equal to the ones facing biometric security today, but as time progressed the credit card grew safer, just like biometric security will. The new Macbook Pro was just released with a Touch ID feature, The propaganda for this new technology from them was a valid point, “Passwords are and always have been a necessary nightmare. They’re too hard to remember, too easy to crack, and often end up as part of some massive corporate server breach anyway” (Barrett, 2016). This could not scream more truth, Almost everyone has at one time or another forgotten a password, you cannot forget a fingerprint! It brings personal privacy to a whole new level, so personal it is part of your body. Biometric Security is the future of privacy.

  • starsfromabove

    What do you think should be done with biometric technology? Should we continue to expand on it, or should we stop and simply use older methods of security, such as passwords?

    I think it is a good innovative way to change the methods of today’s technology. I agree that older methods of security such as passwords are hard to remember sometimes and can also be stolen from you, resulting in identity theft. Therefore, I think biometric technology will protect people better in not having to worry about their identities being stolen because everyone has their own unique DNA and features.

    • bgirl272

      This is a great point. I also think it is amazing that we have come to this point where this is actually a viable option. Especially for passwords that guard more things, biometrics are way safer and personally, I would choose biometrics over conventional passwords to guard them any day.

  • Julian Kirk

    I think something like this should be left up to the person in the sense that if someone wants to use a password for example they should be able to but there can also be another option to use things mentioned in this article. Some people might not like how the new things work or might not think it is secure enough or they might think passwords are not secure enough and the new things are. Basically what I am saying is that I think both options should be open to people to chose. Passwords can be hard to remember but after a while of using them you get use to them and remember them easily. At least that is how it is for me but it can vary person to person I suppose.

  • Emme Williams

    Emme
    Williams
    5th Hour
    December 6th 2016
    Is Biometric Technology Worth the Security Risk?

    I do not believe biometric technology is worth the security risk. Biometric security has been regarded as
    the most secure identification measure due to its life-long sustainability and
    uniqueness to a person (Is Biometric Technology Worth the Security Risk?, 2016).
    As time is progressing our technology is also progressing at a rapid rate, but
    this opens a complete risk to the privacy of our lives. Our iris and our
    fingerprints will transform into our new credit card swipe or form of
    identification, but what happens if someone intrudes the system and can use
    your finger print or iris scan to buy something? DNA profile becomes a digital
    file, that file will be difficult to protect. As the recent nsa revelations
    have made clear, the boundary between commercial and government data is porous at
    best (Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks, 2016). We cannot change our
    finger print or iris like we currently can with our credit card numbers when our
    information is hacked and that creates a huge threat when it comes to fraud.

    As well as fraud we have the issue in a huge rush in increased security
    with biometric technology being put into place. People living in large cities,
    in states like New York with a huge monetary industry, would be under constant surveillance.
    Biometrics could turn existing surveillance systems into something
    categorically new—something more powerful and much more invasive. Consider the
    so-called Domain Awareness System, a network of 3,000 surveillance cameras in
    New York City (Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks, 2016). We would
    almost completely lose our privacy as we travelled to different places.

    I do not find losing my privacy and an increase in potential fraud issues does not seem worth the convenience
    of biometric technology. Although, I do believe that if we were to create a
    safe system of this technology that it would be a brilliant advancement and
    could speed up simple tasks that currently take much longer.

  • Adam Pall

    We should continue to develop more advanced biometric technologies. We should this because, “In the past year alone, more than 40 million credit card numbers have been stolen from Target and another 56 million from Home Depot. These breaches, combined with those involving millions of stolen passwords…” (Linzon, 2015. p. 1) This shows that our current system of payment and security are not good enough and do not fully protect our data. Biometric security could be a more secure way of keeping our data safe because, “It’s stronger than a password, but easy for even a novice to use. Used in conjunction with a good password manager, it could hugely improve the user’s online security.” And, “What makes Touch ID such an improvement isn’t just ease of use but the way the fingerprints are stored. Your biometric information stays on your device, rather than connecting with some far-flung, potentially vulnerable server somewhere.” (Barrett 2016 p. 1) This shows that biometrics are potentially a more secure way of protecting our data. We should continue to develop this technology because, “Companies in this sector say they’re trying to address security concerns while also making this new kind of payment technology easy to use.”If biometrics are done right, we can get both,” says Jamie Cowper (Linzon, 2015 p. 1) So If done right biometrics will be more secure than traditional methods

  • Reid Goble

    I believe that biometric technology is worth the security risk. According to the California Academy of Sciences (2016), biometric technology is “regarded as the most secure identification due to its life-long sustainability and uniqueness”. Biometric technology involves using a person’s body parts, such as an eye, fingerprint or one’s DNA and storing it as files for future verification. Although there are complaints that these files “will be difficult to protect” (“Biometric Security”, 2016) it is poses no more risk than other security measures such as passwords. There is always a security risk for anything, whether it be passwords or retina scans, but at least with biometric technology it is “nearly impossible to fraud” (“Is Biometric”, 2016) unlike passwords. For example, it would be much harder for criminal activity to be accomplished when a criminal would need a part of your body to steal your identity. Biometric technology greatly decreases the risk of criminal activity which is more Important to me than the privacy risk associated with biometric technology. Biometric technology is proven to be a more secure identification measure and therefore is worth the security risk.

    • bgirl272

      I agree with this completely. The benefits really out weigh the risks and the way it is not is not secure enough.

  • bgirl272

    I think we should keep developing this. Everything comes with risk until you perfect it. This is the same idea we face here it is just important to make sure its perfect before we use it. Also, people can choose to use older methods if they choose, but it is always important to seek advancement in my opinion. http://blog.m2sys.com/biometric-hardware/advantages-biometric-identification-management-system/

    • Jodi DeMassa

      I think that this is a very clever idea. If we want to advance security, I think we’re onto something good! #MyCMSTArgs

  • Jodi DeMassa

    I believe that biometrics is going in a good direction to optimizing our security, but I’m not sure if we’d want to take it that far by using our fingerprints for everything. It’s being implemented right now, but the whole idea is shocking to me right now. Here’s a link to explain other ways biometrics can benefit us. http://blog.m2sys.com/biometric-hardware/advantages-biometric-identification-management-system/ #MyCMSTArgs

Author

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a leading scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco. It is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Founded in 1853, the Academy’s mission is to explore, explain and sustain life. Visit www.calacademy.org for more information.

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