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Microsoft’s security chief urges people to ditch passwords for biometric - Webroot response

May 2019 by David Kennerley, director of threat research at Webroot

Following the news that Microsoft’s security chief has urged people to ditch passwords and adopt biometric technology, please see a comment from David Kennerley, Director of Threat Research at Webroot, who believes that biometrics aren’t a cure-all solution:

“The security industry is no stranger to hype, and we should be wary of rushing to consign passwords to the history books. Fingerprints, voice and facial recognition are increasingly being touted as go-to methods for securing devices and services. However, they are also a risk in themselves. Hackers have successfully used face masks to access the iPhone X, and, recently, the Samsung Galaxy s10’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor has been compromised by security researchers. If biometric data is stolen by hackers, there is no “security question” reset. It cannot be replaced or altered – it is part of you.

“As such, the humble password and/or something else you know, still has a place in our security eco-system – with augmentations, of course. The state of California has recently recognised that passwords like ‘admin’, ‘12345’ and ‘password’ were largely fallible and imposed a ban on their use in all new consumer electronics starting in 2020. Instead, passwords should be bolstered by additional security measures such as Multi-Factor Authentication: a device that you have (such as a phone), something that only you know (your password), and a piece of biometric information. By implementing a layered approach – which is not dependent on any one factor in isolation – sensitive data has a better chance of remaining protected.”




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