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Biometrics is better, but still has security holes

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In the midst of the digital age, convenience is now key for consumers – and never has it been this easy to get so much by doing so little.

Services like Lyft and Postmates, for example, have changed customer expectations by delivering service straight to their front door. And as consumers demand new innovations to make living life as convenient as possible, companies are competing to be on the cutting edge. One development of this trend is the rise in use of biometric data to access consumer’s personal accounts.

This is especially visible in the integration of biometrics used in smartphones. For years, smartphone users have been able to unlock their phones with their fingerprint, and recently the bar has been raised with facial recognition unlocking.

In another example, CLEAR, a popular company used by travelers and stadium goers, allows consumers to verify their identities and pass checkpoints using biometric fingerprint and retina scans, rather than relying on traditional travel documents and tickets.

While there is no doubt that the convergence of consumer technology and biometrics has made our lives easier, there is also a potential danger. Consumers face significant risk if this highly personal information is exposed, as recently happened with the first major breach of a biometric database earlier this year. So, how can consumers and businesses protect this precious information and where is the future of biometric data headed?

Unlike usernames, passwords and credit cards, biometric data cannot be changed or updated. In other words, you cannot change the biometric features that make a person unique – so when data is exposed, it remains potentially compromised for the rest of that person’s life. And because the use of biometric data is relatively new, we do not what know exactly what the fallout may be when it falls into unwanted hands.

Within the consumer and business relationship there are some best practices both can do to prevent the disastrous from happening.

Firms should tell consumers they need to remain vigilant and demand the best of the businesses that they entrust with their information. Asking the right questions early can go a long way in making companies take the proper protection measures.

Questions like where biometrics are being stored, who has access to my data and what measures are in place to ensure the protection of that data, are excellent ways for consumer to exert positive pressure on businesses to do all that is possible to keep their information safe.

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