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Posted on August 21st, 2012, by

Today, the problem of safety of the private information and personal data are of the utmost importance, while the risk of identity theft and private information breaches is constantly increasing. In such a situation, many private companies as well as state agencies attempt to introduce new security system which can protect them from unauthorized access to the private information of people or unauthorized use of this information. As a result, the systems of identification become more and more complicated and new technologies are supposed to secure private information of people and totally eliminate the risk of the identity theft. However, in actuality, even the most sophisticated systems can ensure the absolute, one hundred percent security. Nevertheless, some specialists (Bain, 2008) believe that the introduction of new biometric systems can increase the security level and minimize the risk of misuse of the private information or identity theft. However, it is obvious that the progress of technologies will lead to the emergence of new crimes which can illegally overcome traps imposed by new technologies. In this respect, it is possible to speak about biometric spoofing as a potentially widely-spread crime which can affect the life of people consistently in a couple of decades.

First of all, it should be said that specialists (Kong, 2006) forecast that the application of biometrics systems will increase constantly and, in the future biometric systems will be the most widely spread because they provide the possibility of the identification of an individual on the basis of unique biometric characteristics. For instance, it is a well-known fact that there are no people in the world who have absolutely identical fingerprints, iris, and even the voice of each individual is unique and can be recognized and identified by biometric systems. The uniqueness of biometric characteristics makes people convinced that biometric systems can ensure the safety of identification process preventing any external intrusion and denying access to all but the owner of specific biometric parameters which biometric systems can identify and distinguish from others.

In such a way, biometric systems create a false impression of total security and protection of individual’s identification, the protection which can eliminated the risk of identity theft or unauthorized access to spaces or information protected by biometric systems. However, some specialists warn that biometric systems can be imperfect and, what is more, they can be cheated out, though it will need a high qualification of criminals and knowledge of how biometric systems work and how they can be cheated out (Teoh, Goh, and Ngo, 2006). In fact, what is really important in this respect is the fact that, in spite of the seeming security and reliability of biometric systems, they are still imperfect and cannot prevent people from the risk of identity theft, for instance. Hence, the problem of biometric spoofing arises since biometric spoofing implies the unauthorized use of biometric data to get access to some information or areas where the access is normally restricted to.

Nevertheless, in spite of the warning concerning the possible risks and lack of reliability of biometric systems, they have been already started being introduced in different organizations and state agencies. For instance, fingertips have been traditionally used in law enforcement agencies for the identification of criminals and there are huge database systems where fingertips of criminals as well as non-criminals are stored for easy identification of people. However, in the past, the use of biometric data could be applicable only in terms of certain procedures defined by the law, for instance, in case of arrest of an individual, while, today, the use of biometric data is growing to be more and more widely spread. Moreover, in many cases, the use of biometric is essential, for instance when immigrants arrive to the country they have to provide their biometric data. In addition, biometric systems are introduced for the identification of individuals, for instance, in areas restricted to the access of non-staff. As a result, the use of biometric systems becomes more and more widely spread. If today these systems are still rather innovative than regular, then, in the future, for instance within the following couple of decades, these systems can become the major systems used for identification of individuals and totally replace traditional printed or electronic systems of identification.

On the other hand, the wide use of biometric systems will raise the problem of biometric spoofing, which can become a serious burden for law enforcement agencies, as well as private and public organizations that will use biometric systems. In actuality, the problem is obvious since the introduction of new security and identification system will stimulated the emergence of crimes related to the intrusion in these systems. Consequently, the forecasts of specialists (Kong, 2006) concerning the emergence of biometric spoofing are quite logical, taking into consideration the growing popularity of biometric systems today and the widely-spread in their high reliability.

In this respect, it is important to warn people and policy makers who stimulated and support the introduction of biometric systems en mass that the reliability and high level of security of biometric systems are illusory. In fact, specialists argue that the existing biometric systems of can be easily cheated even today. For instance, biometric systems which identify an individual using fingerprints, have been already cheated with the help of fake fingers made of gelatin (Ratha, Connell, and Bolle, 2001). Hence, it is obvious that the existing biometric security systems are imperfect.

However, what is probably the main problem of all biometric security systems is the problem of availability of biometric data of people to potential criminals. To put it more precisely, people leave samples of their biometric data practically everywhere. For instance, a potential criminal will hardly face any difficulties with obtaining fingerprints of an individual because all people naturally leave their fingerprints on any object they touch in their regular, routine life and people do not even think that this exposes them to the high risk of identity theft and biometric spoofing in case biometric security systems are introduced en mass. The latter is highly probable in the future.

In response to the criticism of the existing biometric systems, specialists supporting the introduction of biometric security systems (Dabbah, Woo and Dlay, 2007) argue that modern systems are really imperfect but they can improved in the future. For instance, they argue that biometric systems using iris can be consistently more effective than biometric systems using fingerprints, while in the future biometric security systems will grow even more complicated and sophisticated that is supposed to decrease the risk of biometric spoofing.

However, such arguments are not very convincing for critics of biometric security systems who argue, for instance, that there is a risk that biometric systems using iris could be cheated due to the use of video and other devices. In general, the criticism of biometric security systems is, to a significant extent, justified because the progress of security systems will inevitably face new, more sophisticated challenges from the part of criminals for whom biometric spoofing can be consistently easier than the identity theft in the modern world, when print and electronic identification systems still prevail. Obviously, it is easier to copy fingerprints of an individual, make a fake finger and use for identification than, for example, to create a fake chip and pin credit card. The major reason which increases the risk of biometric spoofing is the availability of biometric data, which criminals should not even steal somehow. Instead, they just need to pick them up, while people leave them everywhere.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the introduction of biometric security systems is likely to become en mass in the future. However, in the long-term perspective the use of biometric security systems en mass can raise the problem of biometric spoofing a new type of crime which can become extremely popular within the next couple of decades. In fact, the major problem of biometric security systems is the poor protection of biometric data which can be used by criminals to breach in biometric security systems. In such a way, people will vulnerable to biometric spoofing that means that the level of the protection of their private information and identity will be extremely low.

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