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Biometric Data Security – How Safe is Biometric Data

7 July 2020

Biometric data is the unique information that can be used to identify a person with accuracy. With every industry being enrolled into the use of biometric authentication, the concerns and reluctance of consumers with regards to the safety of their biometric data becomes ever more important to address them. In 2019 survey showed that 56% of Europeans expressed concern over the security of biometric data.

Although data security has always been an issue, hacking and stolen information has caused many issues for companies/businesses over the years, once a breach is known then passwords and usernames can be changed. However, biometrics cannot be changed as they are unchangeable human features which adds to the complication of securing the data.

To use biometrics for authentication, the data must first be collected, analysed and converted to data, in the form of a biometric template. This will help to keep the biometrics in a more secure format.

The biometric data can be stored in different ways:


Hardware based recognition system 

The data is stored locally onto a hardware that will work with the Biometric device to recognize the data. This will give a rapid response as it doesn’t require an external response, instead the data is stored locally. This is one of the more secure methods for storage of the data, as it doesn’t need to be transferred.


Portable Token System

The biometric data is stored within a token and be part of a 2-part authentication process, using ID card and the token. This can be a more costly method but as you need 2 step verification, then security is increased, reducing risk of compromise and fraud.


End-user Device

Most commonly smartphone device, stores the data on a chip, separate to the device network. This method means that the implementer or the biometric data has no control over it. This is a more secure method as the data is not stored on large database and little risk of hacking.


Biometric Server

A cost-effective but potentially susceptible method. The biometric data is held on an external server and should be encrypted when transfer is happening to protect it. It is more susceptible to hacking.


Distributed Data Storage

This uses both a server and device to store the data. This system is makes it more difficult for data to be compromised and gives the business complete control of the data.

Business must continuously look to the security of their data and improve processes. Also, to opt for the solutions that gives the most secure options for the biometric data and to meet their responsibility to the consumer whose data they must protect.