Without you necessarily realizing it, your unique attributes — or “biometrics” — are being used to verify your identity.
Every time you unlock your smartphone, use a fingerprint scanner at the airport, or upload a photo with facial recognition to Facebook, your physical attributes are scanned and scrutinized against a template.
The use of biometrics has exploded in recent years, with companies ranging from 24-Hour Fitness to NYU Langone Medical Center using this convenient technology to identify their customers.
By 2019, biometrics are expected to be a 25-billion-dollar industry with more than 500 million biometric scanners in use around the world, according to Marc Goodman, an advisor to Interpol and the FBI. Newest to the scene, Wells Fargo this fall will begin offering a smartphone app with biometric authentication — making all your financial information just an eye scan away.
With biometrics, there’s no need to memorize an unwieldy sequence of numbers and letters as with passwords — and consumers value that convenience. In a OnePoll/Gigya survey, 80 percent of consumers who expressed a preference said they think biometric authentication is more secure than traditional passwords, and 52 percent of consumers said they would choose anything but a traditional password when given the choice.
But, unlike a password, if a person’s biometrics are hacked, they can’t be changed.
“You can always get a new credit card. You can always create a new password. [It’s] really hard to get new fingers. You only have ten of them and once that information leaks, it’s out and there’s nothing you can do,” Goodman said in an interview with NBC News.