Published in Financial Mail. Biometric data makes it easy to verify a person’s identity, but is it safe to hand fingerprint and other information to third parties? By Nafisa Akabor.

Fingerprint readers, facial recognition and iris scans are standard features on today’s smartphones. Biometric authentication is used as a form of ID and access control and has replaced passwords on our personal devices.

Two new SA tech developers are using biometrics to make it easy to verify a person’s identity. But is biometrics as secure as we’d like to believe?

The Guardian recently reported that fingerprints, facial recognition information and unencrypted passwords belonging to over a million people were found on an online public database belonging to tech company Suprema. Its Biostar 2 platform is used by more than 5,700 organisations in 83 countries, including banks, contractors and the UK metropolitan police.

Biometrics is the most reliable means of authenticating a personal identity, but when the stored data becomes publicly accessible, an affected person can’t simply change their fingerprints in the way they would with a password.

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