Government shutdown severely weakens cybersecurity in US 

weekly cypherThe Weekly Cypher is specially curated to keep you up-to-date on the latest in cybersecurity, biometrics, and related news and innovations. Here are a few of the headlines you might have missed this week.

Biometrics in 2019: Increased security or new attack vector?| Threatpost

This year thousands of consumers unwrapped new smartphones and laptops which come with biometric sensors that are intended to protect their data and identities through strong authentication. Apple continues to gain popularity with its iPhone X facial recognition feature while more laptops and phones now incorporate fingerprint scanning. But is this broad adoption of biometric security making consumers safer? And is everyone really comfortable sharing this form of identity data points with vendors, tools, and apps?

Fingerprint biometric security reportedly coming to WhatsApp| Find Biometrics

WhatsApp engineers are working on a biometric authentication feature based on fingerprint recognition for Android users, according to a report from India’s Business Today. The report suggests that the biometric security feature has already been made available to some users through a software update delivered via the Google Play Beta Program. Once it officially goes live, users who activate it will be prompted to authenticate with a fingerprint scan every time they open the app.

How the travel industry is driving biometric security innovation | Forbes

A renewed investment in biometrics promises to speed up travel for all, making it easier to check in, board and clear immigration. The implementation of biometrics is not being driven just for the sake of the consumer or for stronger security. It all comes down to the bottom line: travel drives global GDP growth. Keeping airports safe drives business, which creates jobs. The faster one can travel, the more money that can be made.

The government shutdown has severely weakened cybersecurity in the US | MIT Technology Review

In a stalemate over how best to secure America’s southern border, the Trump administration has endangered the integrity of one of the country’s even more important frontiers. 17 days and counting: Nearly 45% of employees at the newly established Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, as well as 85% of staff at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), have been furloughed in the government shutdown, according to a report from Duo Security.

Will 2019 be the year when the US finally gets serious about data protection? | Diginomica

In the wake of the Facebook and Google scandals which, in the colorful words of Mother Jones magazine, “have transformed Silicon Valley from America’s startup darlings to the country’s biggest corporate creeps,” US lawmakers are under increasing pressure to write a national privacy law like the European Union’s robust GDPR rules. There have been a number of bills offered, including one by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who proposed an inexplicably unpopular bill that would jail executives who mishandle consumer data. Unfortunately, none of the proposals offered so far have attracted much support.