Biometrics for Securing ‘Big Data

“Already there has been the massive plastic card data theft in South Korea, affecting about 60 million cards; the Target Corp. credit card disaster involving up to 40 million customers; the hacking of 16 million German e-mail accounts; data security breaches at Nieman Marcus Inc. and Easton-Bell Sports Inc.; and a group of Russian hackers who compromised the computer systems of Western energy and defense companies, governments, and academic institutions. We’re still in January.” – Quoted by Data Versity

Unfortunately, the above statement signals an alarming trend that seems to be growing by the week – big data theft! Until recently, the theft of big data was only a problem for small companies that didn’t have adequate security; however, as cyber criminals have grown more tech savvy, this problem has spread to larger corporations. Looking at the above quote, there is one data solution that none of these companies implemented – biometrics.

When people think of biometrics, they think of fingerprint scans, and while this is considered a biometric, it is only one of many. Other forms of biometrics include:

  • retinal scans
  • vein recognition
  • signature recognition (the system looks at the motion used to create the signature, rather than just the signature itself)
  • DNA sampler

There are many pros and some cons to using biometrics in Big Data security, based on some of the most recently performed case studies and stats. Below are the most agreed upon pros and cons.


Thwarts Unwanted Access. There are many pros in using biometrics for Big Data security, the first of which is the elimination of unauthorized access. Nowadays, hackers can get past just about any form of 2-step verification security. However, biometrics offers a much more challenging platform for hackers and there are two reasons behind this. Firstly, the person has to be present in front of the machine to get past security and secondly only the person who’s biometrics were used can access it.

Laptops or computer systems that use biometrics often ask for fingerprints, retinal scan, or DNA before offering access. This means the person has to be in front of the machine for the scan. With passcode or password access, hackers could be anywhere in the world and still access the system, but they cannot with biometrics, so big data is safe from prying eyes.

Before setting up biometrics security, authorized personnel would need to be scanned. Depending on what the company prefers, this could be the retinal recognition, a signature, or even an employee’s vein pattern. To offer adequate security, some businesses choose to have a 2-step verification process, which requires the employee to use two-forms of biometric verification before accessing Big Data. This is by far the hardest security measure for hackers to get through.


Pricing. One of the biggest cons for businesses looking into biometrics is the price tag. Fingerprint systems are relatively affordable, since it is the most common form of biometric security. However, something a DNA sampler could set you back quite a lot. A DNA sampler detects DNA by analyzing a hair strand (this could pose a problem with balding staff members).

Signature Readers Can Be Fooled.I f a person wants to forge a signature bad enough, they can study the impressions an employees leaves behind when signing and determine the motion they used to make the signature. After a few practice runs, the person may be able to accurately copy the signature and get through the system. There are also variations in a person’s signature at any given time, so an authorized person could be refused access at times.

Fingerprints Can be Destroyed. Fingerprints may be destroyed due to injury, burns or certain activities outside of work. In a study sighted by Tech Republic, a bank implemented fingerprint scans in a town that had a significant number or coal-miners. This proved to be a disaster as the workers’ fingerprints had worn off due to the nature of their job.

What’s apparent here is that biometrics offer solutions that other programs just couldn’t offer when it comes to securing Big Data. What’s also apparent is the fact that these solutions aren’t infallible. Before making a decision as to whether this could work for your company or not, weigh your risks and benefits.

About the author: Anne Matthews enjoys writing about information security and data recovery. She is a professional blogger currently writes for CBL Data Recovery.

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