Data privacy is a major concern for everyone. For businesses, it isn’t just about protecting themselves from attack, but also the financial and legal concerns that go along with data breaches. As companies collect more data on their employees and customers, the risks increase exponentially, and it’s essential that firms use the best systems possible for handling highly sensitive data. When it comes to the most private data of all – your biometrics – there’s no room for error.
How We Handle Biometric Data
There are many challenges in protecting biometric data, and no single, foolproof solution. Both companies and governments have already come under fire for mishandling biometrics. The data breach at the Office of Personnel Management in the United States in 2015 led to millions of sets of fingerprints gathered by the U.S. government being leaked. And, more recently, the Aadhaar Project in India has come under fire for not taking the proper steps for storing the biometric data it is gathering on Indian citizens.
One of the main concerns regarding the Aadhaar project is that the biometric data collected may be being stored as complete images, rather than encrypted templates. As such, those images could be inappropriately used by agencies that have access to the Aadhaar database.
Proper Data Handling with Visual Cryptography
I believe that the most appropriate way to ensure the privacy of biometric data is to encrypt and store it using a visual cryptography scheme.
The fundamental idea of visual cryptography is that, rather than encrypting the data as a single file using the standard public and private key pairing methodology, you encrypt the data randomly into multiple files. These files have to be combined in order to recreate the original data set, ensuring that only the people, or devices, that contain the encrypted files are able to recombine them and gain access to the protected information without any influence to the overall performance.
This ensures that the biometric data is protected from data breaches, provides peace of mind for the end user that their biometric cannot be easily compromised, and enhances the storage architecture to eliminate misuse of the data.
For more information on visual cryptography and why it’s a superior way to protect biometric data, watch our webinar “Top Biometric Identifiers: Risks & Rewards.”