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Can simple photography beat biometric systems?

Simple photography cracking biometric systems highlights the need for two-factor authentication in enterprises according to expert Randall Gamby.

I heard about a security researcher who claimed to be able to beat fingerprint and retinal scan biometric systems using simple photography. While the accuracy is not yet confirmed, these claims are unsettling. Should my enterprise -- which implements fingerprint security measures -- be concerned? To what extent does this cast doubt on the integrity of biometric authentication systems?

As a form of additional two-factor authentication, biometric checks can be used successfully for identity assurance. However, the security of these mechanisms as the sole source of identity proofing is questionable. As with any credential, when used without additional checks, they can be subject to spoofing. This isn't the first instance of commercially-available biometric products being overcome by simple photography, though most likely governmental DoD high-security devices are more difficult to beat.

The key to ensuring security is to fully implement two-factor authentication processes, using something you have and something you know. Biometric appliances answer the first part of the equation but they should be used in conjunction with a pin, password, pass phrase or some other form of "something you know" type of authentication to be fully effective.

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This was last published in June 2015

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