Facial Recognition and its Security Flaws
The technology used nowadays to authenticate employees, passengers and anyone else is still an evolving process. Back in the old days, there were paper flyers which were replaced by hand drawings and then photos and video images. Up until recently, connecting the faces with their proper names was a long and drawn out process which could be anything from browsing through logs of mug shots to sketch artists. The various methods of identification used have advanced over the decades with facial recognition security software leading the way. If this technology is used ethically and accurately, it can really enhance public security, but there are many risks that must be accounted for such as abuse of data, new scamming methods and privacy concerns.
In order to find out the implications of expanding the use of facial recognition security technology, let’s take a look at some of the security flaws.
1. Identity theft
We all keep our passwords secret and we try to choose something that cannot be easily guessed. However, we cannot protect our faces the same way thus making face recognition security a prime target for scammers to steal people’s identity. In the real world, authenticating someone is not a big deal since there are so many other factors involved that would allow real-life people to authenticate someone. However, in the digital world, it is a whole different story. Hackers can bypass face locks with a simple picture of the person whose identity they are trying to steal and even the “liveness” checks that were later introduced were easily circumvented.
The newest face recognition security system included in devices such as iPhones, use 3D depth maps to detect and verify all the features of the person who owns this device. This new security measure is very hard to fool and would require potential scammers to recreate some sort of representation of the person’s face. It is difficult, but not impossible.
2. Data privacy
Facial recognition privacy concerns are one of the most debatable issues of this technology. Before using it, you have to ask where is my face data being stored? Who can access this information? Are there any other uses for this information? To be quite frank, even if you are a casual internet user, your face is, most likely, already floating around the internet via social media profiles and pretty much anyone with a high-resolution camera on their smartphone can take a quality picture of you from a distance.
However, the FaceID technology is always on and will automatically activate whenever it detects your face. This is not limited to just iPhones, devices such as the Amazon Echo constantly has its eye on you via the front camera and who knows how much of that data is stored and in what location it is being held.
3. Signature fraud
One of the harmful effects of facial recognition is the ability to forge people’s signature. A lot of credit card companies are using this technology to verify the identity of their customers and while the computer vision software can be used as a quick authentication method, it has not been perfected. All of the various facial recognition systems require their own lighting conditions and if these conditions are not perfect, they might accept the wrong user or reject the authentic one.
4. Misidentification issues
If the facial recognition systems have a high error rate, it could have huge repercussions in areas such as law enforcement and transportation security. Facial recognition is being used to verify the identity of passengers at airports and even one mistake can have a big fallout with people being wrongly accused or unable to prove their identity. Whenever there is no room for error, we have to wonder exactly how foolproof the technology is.
5. Ethical risks
Whenever a new technology is being widely adopted, we tend to forget about some of the ethical concerns. For example, in China, facial identification is being used to assign each citizen a social credit score based on how trustworthy they deem this person to be. In other words, this technology is being used to constantly keep an eye on citizens to make sure that they do not step out of line. In this case, the more you follow the rules, the better your social score will be.
Given all the security risks and concerns, we have to wonder if the benefits of facial recognition are really worth it since this technology can easily be misused. Generally, whenever new gadgets come out that feature improved facial recognition technology, you always have to keep in mind how corporations and even the government can use this technology for their purposes. Even though the creators of the facial recognition technology built it for one specific purpose, there could be hundreds or even thousands of other uses some of which might not be so good.