SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Common misconceptions about smart homes and biometrics

By Contributor
Mon 22 Jun 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by FIDO Alliance executive director and CMO Andrew Shikiar.

Smart home integration is gaining popularity – especially in modern times with more people confined to their homes by COVID-19. According to Statista, there are currently 1.1 million homes with smart security systems in Australia  - a number expected to double by 2023 – and a further 200 thousand in New Zealand. Smart security systems include network cameras, video doorbells and other security and access control devices designed to safeguard against home invasions and theft.

Smart devices are constantly evolving and offering more features, connectivity and integration with other devices and software platforms. The future smart home promises a seamless, personalised experience. As an example, smart locks provide added home security as well as a means to keep more the vulnerable members of society safe.  

Smart locks can ensure that elderly relatives are secure while householders are out of the home and that children can let themselves in after school safely. Biometric digital door locks combat the threat of intruders and negate the fear of a lost key ending up in the wrong hands by ensuring that only pre-identified people can enter.

In addition to smart home innovations, the commercial application of biometrics is also being progressively rolled out in other industries, including digital banking, construction and facility security to name a few. According to IDC, almost a third of organisations in APAC see biometrics for authentication purposes as important or extremely important.

Although APAC is ahead of the curve on biometrics adoption, concerns around security and losses from identity fraud still persist. The global outcry following incidents such as the Biostar 2 data breach merely add fuel to the fire.

The most common misconception is the immunity of biometrics to potential attack. It is critical to disengage the connection between data breach stories and biometrics, by focusing on the fact that the real cause of most attacks is not biometrics itself, but the storage of biometrics data in a centralised database.

Misconception #1: Biometrics are insecure

Contrary to common concerns about privacy, biometric authentication is one of the most secure and usable forms of authentication available today. If implemented correctly, biometrics can actually be one of the few technologies with no tradeoff, offering users both convenience and security.

What is less known, however, is that “correct” implementation – or optimal implementation - means keeping biometric data out of centralised servers and adhering to privacy best practices.

Pilfered passwords – still the most widely used form of authentication today – are responsible for more than 80% of hacking-related breaches, according to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Biometrics is one of the best options for replacing passwords going forward, and may even revive two-factor authentication (2FA) adoption – but we cannot make the same mistake we did with passwords.

Look at the model: Passwords lost their efficacy because the average user has over 90 online accounts and, more often than not, uses the same password across several of them. The fact is, a thicket of passwords ends up as sitting ducks on a server somewhere, stolen and then easily used for password spraying, credential stuffing, and other attacks that let cybercriminals into private and sensitive accounts.

The financial impact of each data breach is staggering, costing USD2.13 million on average in Australia, according to research conducted by IBM and the Ponemon Institute.

Biometrics are secure, yes. But if we store them on a server, biometrics data will be as easy to steal as passwords.

So instead of relying on servers, biometric data can and should only be stored locally on the user’s device (e.g., laptop or mobile phone). Tech heavyweights – Microsoft, Apple, and Google – are already taking this approach. Consumers are rightly concerned about their biometric data being safeguarded, and providers must be transparent about using the right approach to biometric data storage.

Misconception #2: Biometrics are easy to spoof

Very early on, biometric spoofing also raised alarm bells. Online coverage around hackers creating sophisticated fingerprint moulds with 3D printers and successfully getting into a device is even more pervasive. While biometric systems are vulnerable to presentation (or spoofing) attacks, in practice they are extremely difficult to implement and – most critically – they are prohibitively difficult to implement at scale.

Vendors are addressing this by coming out with new innovations in both the sensitivity of their sensors, as well as adding new liveness detection capabilities to test for the proper user.

JFK airport in New York recently launched a biometric self-boarding system. With a brief glance at a high-precision camera equipped with next-gen liveness detection, passengers are automatically cleared for boarding.

The spoofing threat does not mean we have to abandon biometrics. We just need to be realists about the cyber arms race and also be sure to follow biometric authentication best practices.

In addition to only storing biometric data on the device, service providers need to take a second step, which is to leverage available technology that verifies the physical possession of the authorised user's personal device every time the biometric is presented.

Take these two steps – store biometric data on the user’s device (and never let it leave) and require irrefutable proof of device possession – and the threat of a large-scale breach of biometric data is gone.

A criminal would need both the biometric data and the actual device to even attempt an attack. If we know anything about hackers, an attack plan needs to be large-scale, or they are not going to bother.

By taking these steps, we can embrace the convenience that biometric authentication offers with no tradeoff.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Equinix
Aussie businesses buckle down on digital tech investments
Australian businesses are planning major investments in digital technologies to support ambitious expansion plans.
Story image
ABI Research
75% of 5G networks to advance to 5G-Advanced by 2030
5G-advanced is set to launch in 2025, and 75% of 5G networks will upgrade by 2030, according to ABI Research. 
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Your tools, your choice: why allow employees to choose their own devices?
Jamf Australia says giving your team the freedom to work with their digital device of choice could help to attract and retain top talent in a tight labour market.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Remote Working
RDP attacks on the rise, Kaspersky experts offer advice
"Given that remote work is here to stay, we urge companies to seriously look into securing their remote and hybrid workforce to protect their data."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Document Management
Regaining digital trust and enhancing digitisation in Australian Government agencies
Having a digitised ecosystem of documents, tools and data can help bolster security, improve workflow and ultimately create better services.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Training
Barracuda customises training to fit ACSC Essential Eight
Barracuda has announced that its Security Awareness Training now provides a customised training curriculum in line with the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) Essential Eight.
Story image
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
Story image
Media
Registrations for the W.Media Sydney Cloud and Datacenter Convention 2022 now open
Are you a C-Level executive looking to enhance your knowledge in the cloud and data center space in order to get the best results for your company?
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Security driving customer identity & access management adoption
"CIAM allows businesses to embed a secure identity layer into their consumer and SaaS applications, facilitating secure, seamless end user experiences."
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.