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37% Computers Processing Biometric Face Attempts To Steal Data: Study

Biometric data is increasingly part of everyday life, augmenting and replacing traditional authentication methods, such as those based on logins and passwords.

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According to a recent report by  Kaspersky ICS CERT a significant number of conventional malware samples were blocked, including modern remote-access Trojans (5.4%), malware used in phishing attacks (5.1%), ransomware (1.9%), and Trojan bankers (1.5%). These and other findings came from the “Threats for biometric data processing and storage systems” report.

Biometric data is increasingly part of everyday life, augmenting and replacing traditional authentication methods, such as those based on logins and passwords. Biometry-based authentication is used to access government and commercial offices, industrial automation systems, corporate and personal laptops and mobile phones. However, like many other technologies that have lately been rapidly evolving, biometric authentication systems have proved to have significant generic drawbacks. The key shortcomings of biometric authentication technologies are usually caused by information security issues.

With that in mind, Kaspersky ICS CERT experts conducted research into cyberthreats that targeted computers used to collect, process and store biometric data with Kaspersky products are installed in the first nine months of 2019. 

As it turned out, the products were triggered on 37% of such computers in the third quarter of 2019. An analysis of threat sources has shown that the internet is the main source of threats for biometric data processing systems – threats with this source were blocked on 14.4% of all biometric data processing systems. This category includes threats blocked on malicious and phishing websites, along with web-based email services.

Removable media (8%) are most often used to distribute worms. After infecting a computer, worms commonly download spyware and remote access Trojans as well as ransomware.

Threats blocked in email clients were ranked third (6.1%) – in most cases, these were typical phishing emails (fake messages on the delivery of goods and services, the payment of invoices, etc.) containing links to malicious websites or attached office documents with embedded malicious code.

“Our research shows that the existing situation with biometric data security is critical and needs to be brought to the attention of industry and government regulators, the community of information security experts, and the general public. Though we believe our customers are cautious, we need to emphasize that infection caused by the malware we detected and prevented could have negatively affected the integrity and confidentiality of biometric processing systems. This is particularly the case for databases where biometric data is stored if those systems were not protected,” said Kirill Kruglov, senior security expert, Kaspersky ICS CERT.

In order to stay protected from the potential risks of cyberattacks, here are a few key takeaways:

* Minimizing how to expose biometric systems are to the internet and internet-related threats. It is better if they are a part of the air-gapped infrastructure. Cybersecurity should be of the highest priority when new systems are designed and implemented.

* Make sure that the highest level of cybersecurity requirements are applied to the infrastructure that contains biometric systems, such as:

* Extensively training the operating personnel to resist possible cyberattacks 

* Ensuring all needed cybersecurity controls are in place 

* Enlisting a dedicated team of highly-skilled professional security experts that can keep track of the infrastructure security

* Regularly conduct security audits to identify and eliminate possible vulnerabilities

* Up-to-date strategic and tactical threat intelligence is constantly provided to the cybersecurity team.

Tags assigned to this article:
Kaspersky report data protection biometric technology