Biometric security is no longer something limited to James Bond or science fiction films. Today, your password could just as easily be your fingerprint or eye as a text-based password. There’s even technology being developed that wants to use your breath as a security measure. Despite these innovative security options, some people and experts aren’t so sure it’s safe. With Windows 10 incorporating it via Windows Hello, the big question is whether biometric security is a risk or not.
Fingerprint Support Coming to Windows 10 Mobile
With iPhone and Android already offering biometric password options, many Windows 10 mobile users have felt left out. The time has officially come with the arrival of Redstone, or better known as the Windows 10 Anniversary Update coming in summer 2016.
The update will utilize the same technology as Windows Hello for Windows 10 computers. You’ll be able to scan your fingerprint, including both touch and swipe gestures in order to unlock your phone. It’s a feature long awaited by some, since it is a convenient way to log into your phone without the hassle of a pin or pattern that Apple and Android users have long enjoyed.
Using Windows 10 Hello for Biometric Security Today
Want to use biometric security without waiting for the Windows 10 mobile update? Just turn to your desktop or Surface tablet. Computers with fingerprint scanners, Surface Book, and Surface Pro 4 allow you to use Windows Hello to login with a fingerprint, iris scan, or facial scan.
You have to set up the biometric option you want to use by going to Settings, Accounts, and Sign-in Option. Choose your options under Windows Hello.
Remember that this is optional and you don’t have to set up biometric security on Windows 10. If you’re not comfortable with Windows Hello, our free Win10 Wizard tool helps you disable it.
Biometrics – Secure or Security Nightmare?
The jury’s still out on just how safe biometric security is. When the U.S. Office of Personnel Management was hacked, over a million fingerprints were stolen from the department’s database. This hack made what many considered a nearly-impossible-to-crack security option suddenly as vulnerable as any password.
You only have one fingerprint…
While using the stolen information might seem too limited to tempt hackers, the more popular biometric security becomes, the more useful a stolen fingerprint could be. For instance, imagine if your credit card required a fingerprint as your pin. A stolen fingerprint would give hackers access to your finances with a touch.
It’s not just limited to fingerprints and that’s what is scaring many people and security experts. Your heartbeat, speech pattern, and gait could all be used to determine if you’re really you. This leaves many fearing anonymity will soon be a thing of the past.
The real problem with biometric security: it isn’t private
As Georgetown University Professor Alvaro Bedoya points out, you create a password and keep it private. You keep your credit card number private. Yet, anyone can look at you and see your eyes or lift your fingerprint from anything you touch.
Our faces and fingerprints could already be in federal and even retail databases. It’s legal in 48 states in the U.S. to take pictures without your consent as long as you’re in public.
Of course, there’s an impersonal feel that makes many people uncomfortable with the whole idea. Having your eye or ear scanned to buy groceries makes you feel like a barcode instead of a person. When retailers recognize as you enter a store via a facial recognition scan, any semblance of privacy starts fading away.
Traditional or Biometric Security?
Right now, biometric security isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely more secure than using a weak password such as password or pass1234. The answer to whether you choose to use traditional or biometric depends on how comfortable you are with the possibility of your biometric data being stored in a database that could be hacked.
The truth is, no database is impenetrable
Currently, it’s still easier for hackers to steal traditional passwords, but the rise in popularity of biometric security could lead to more hackers paying attention as they learn how to use the data against you.
It’s a technology to continue watching, and a question of risk versus reward. You may want to try it out if coming up with passwords isn’t your forte. After all, you’ll never be able to forget your fingerprint!