The rapid digitisations of consumer records and enterprise data have created substantial positive impacts on individuals and businesses alike. However, it has also added to the cost of data breaches and cybercrime still represents one of the greatest threats in the digital world. It is a well-recognised global problem that cybercrime is a major issue for anybody who owns, runs, manages or accesses computer systems that is linked to the world wide web. The problem is further aggravated by the fact that there is an increasing dependency on computer systems for managing several aspects of our lives such as security, financial and infrastructure services.
Statistics reveal that almost 75 percent of people living in the United States have had at least one of their online accounts hacked by cyber criminals. These are a new breed of criminals who use sophisticated technology to reach deep into every home without the owner even realizing it. Passwords seem feeble against their attacks and moreover 92% of all passwords can be hacked. Corporate companies have also not been spared with many of these companies experiencing some kind of data breach every month.
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Cost of cybercrime
As far as technology and computers are concerned, United States is one of the most advanced countries in the world and this is part of the reason why American companies and citizens are prime targets for cyber criminals. Some of the most prevalent cyber-crimes in today’s world include identity fraud, data theft, hacking, password vulnerability, denial of service, sabotage etc.
A study by the British Insurance Company Lloyd in 2015 estimated that cyber-attacks are costing businesses more than $400 billion annually. It includes direct damage as well as the disruption caused to the normal course of business post the attack. The cyber-crime costs had quadrupled from 2013 to 2015 and it seems there will be another quadrupling from 2015 to 2019. Another report by Juniper Research predicts that the cost of data breaches may reach to $2.5 trillion dollar globally by 2020. This is almost four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015.
According to the identity theft resource centre, 5000 known incidents of data breaches have been reported since 2005 and involved approximately 675 million individual records. Data breach refers to the loss of information from personal computers or laptops that could potentially lead to identity theft. This information includes bank account details, medical information, social security numbers etc. Traditionally passwords have been used to secure such confidential information but it seems they have outlived their usefulness as indicated by the rising number of hacking attacks.
This can also be attributed to the fact that more than 30 percent of American internet users visit over 10 websites every day and more than 59 percent of them use the same password on multiple websites. Moreover, passwords possess the inherent risk of being stolen or shared. Criminals are also able to crack passwords having strong entropy with the help of automated password cracking software.
Therefore the staggering numbers mentioned above indicate the magnitude of the problem that cyber-crime poses to businesses and individuals. What is even more alarming is the fact that this statistics continue to rise and the hacker’s reach does not seem to have an end.
Biometrics to stop cybercrime
The problem with passwords suggest that a stronger form of user authentication is required that is secure as well as convenient. Biometrics is one such authentication mechanism that identifies or verifies individuals based on their unique physiological or behavioral characteristics such as iris, fingerprints etc. It is based on something that the user is as opposed to something he knows or something he has.
Weak or compromised passwords are the primary reason for the rising instances of security and data breaches. The implementation of biometric modality such as fingerprints will help to curb these instances as fingerprints are inherent to individuals and virtually impossible to steal or replicate. Fingerprint biometrics has been in existence for thousands of years and the increasing need to reduce hacking attacks and instances of fraud has made this technology very popular and widely used.
Nowadays, experts and law enforcement agencies are increasingly relying on biometrics as a major tool to fight cyber-crimes. For the most part, this technology is one of the hardest forms of security to breach and extremely difficult to reproduce since it is intrinsic to a person’s being. It also proves convenient as the user no longer needs to memorize a long and complex password for every account they use. Their fingerprints now become the password. Furthermore, the time and money spent on resetting lost or forgotten passwords is also eliminated.
After the users are enrolled into the biometric system, only a digital representation of their biometric sample is stored as a template. A biometric algorithm extracts the distinguishing features of the fingerprints, encrypts this data and stores it as a template. This is a one-way algorithm and cannot be used to reconstruct the original image from the template. Thus it provides the highest amount of privacy and assures users that their fingerprints will not be used for any purpose other than identification.
Therefore, it is evident that biometrics can prove individual identity with a much higher accuracy as compared to passwords and are also less vulnerable to hacking and fraud. Furthermore, passwords are shareable but biometrics is neither transferable not forgettable. Thus the use of this technology means improved security and will help consumers and businesses to fight against cyber-crime.