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How to Prevent Biometric Spoofing

biometric access control reader - person pressing thumb into a fingerprint scanner

Biometric access control can be an essential part of a comprehensive security solution for any facility that needs to remain secure and manage authorized access while preventing unauthorized entry. Although biometric access tends to be more secure than traditional keys, advances in technology and increased risks of cybercrime mean that it is not infallible. Biometric spoofing is something to be aware of and to address with your security processes. Here’s what to know and how to prevent biometric spoofing:

What is Biometric Hacking?

Biometric hacking describes the various malicious techniques that hackers, scammers, bad actors, etc. use to steal or create biometric inputs specifically for the purpose of “hacking” or deceiving biometric access control systems into granting unauthorized access. Methods to hack biometrics usually fall into three categories – skimming, replay attacks, and spoofing.

1. What is Skimming?

Skimming is a hacking technique that uses devices to lift or collect fingerprint inputs. These devices can be placed discreetly on existing scanners and readers to collect fingerprint scans without notice. This data can then be sold or used to replicate authorized entry.

2. What Are Replay Attacks?

In replay attacks, hackers will use technology and modern tools to mimic or monitor legitimate access attempts and record biometric data. They will then use the stolen collected data to replay it for the reader or system and gain unauthorized access that appears to be authorized through legitimate existing credentials. Skimmers can be used as part of a hacking strategy that employs replay attacks, but aren’t the only tools used in employing this biometric hacking technique.

3. What is Biometric Spoofing?

Biometric spoofing is a specific type of biometric hacking where hackers create counterfeit biometric inputs based on hacks stealing existing inputs or methods to create new artificial ones. Biometric spoofing can include tactics like creating artificial fingerprints or even masks that mimic facial features.

In another tactic, hackers are able to gain access to the administrative side of your biometric access control system, they are able to create new authorized access for these fake inputs. In some cases of biometric hacking, fingerprint scans related to existing authorized access could be stolen or lifted using skimmers and used to create an artificial scan.

With some facial recognition types of access control readers, a high-resolution image of someone’s face that has been meticulously edited and crafted could match close enough to grant entry. In these cases, the biometric hack, or spoof, is using existing entry scans to gain authorized access and do so in a way that may not trigger any immediate warnings.

5 Tips to Strengthen Biometric Security and Prevent Biometric Spoofing

Although not as common or as easy as stealing keys or access cards, biometric spoofing is still an evolving security risk that you should be aware of. As threats evolve, so do countermeasures to combat them and it’s important to include these countermeasures to provide comprehensive security and protect your facility. Here are some tips to strengthen biometric security and help prevent biometric spoofing:

1. Integrate Other Security Systems For Layered Protection

Robust and comprehensive security solutions don’t rely on a single system or product to work alone. Proactive countermeasures are usually built-in when multiple physical security systems are installed and integrated for layered protection. Implementing video surveillance and integrating access control systems with this and other security systems you have in place can help prevent biometric spoofing.

This is particularly true if the security cameras have intelligent video capabilities like facial recognition, anomaly detection, motion detection, and more. Depending on your facility and operations, you will likely need these other systems for good security anyway. Between real-time monitoring and alerts and the recorded footage as backup information, extra protection against malicious techniques, like biometric hacking, is an additional benefit of implementing the security solutions your facility needs.

2. Implement Advanced Access Control Features

Biometric access control is a type of electronic access control that already provides additional security over traditional access methods. By implementing advanced access control features, you can add further protection and help reduce the risk of biometric hacking.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication can add another layer of protection against unauthorized access. In the context of biometric access control, this usually means requiring a biometric input with at least one other type of input in order to gain entry.

This could be a fingerprint scan and a PIN or a password, two types of biometric inputs, or more combinations. With multi-factor authentication, biometric spoofing becomes more difficult and the risk of unauthorized entry is reduced even if one of the required inputs is compromised.

Liveness Detection

Liveness detection is an emerging countermeasure to prevent biometric spoofing. This technology is built into biometric access control systems to automatically monitor, detect, and differentiate between real and artificial biometric inputs.

In the case of facial recognition scanners, liveness detection might use natural eye blinking, minor facial movements, and other micro-movements or spontaneous behaviors that real people do consciously or unconsciously. These things cannot be replicated effectively with an image or a mask and can be used to differentiate between a real person attempting to gain entry and a spoofing attempt.

3. Opt For a Multi-Modal Biometric System

Access methods, types of readers, levels of access, ongoing management, and more are all factors to consider in an access control system. If you want to incorporate multi-factor authentication and require more than one type of biometric input, you can opt for a multi-modal biometric system. These biometric access control systems are built specifically to use more than one biometric input for verification.

This could be a fingerprint or palm scan in addition to a facial scan or iris scan. You can even have different requirements for different levels of access. You can work with a security systems integrator to identify whatever access methods you want for your facility and customize the system to operate accordingly.

4. Make Use of Access Management Solutions

Regularly reviewing the access credentials in your access control system is important for maintaining access control systems and maintaining the security of your facility. You want to make sure that everyone who currently has access is still supposed to have and has authorized access at the correct levels.

Using access management solutions to review and proactively manage credentials can maintain the health and security of your access control system overall and can help prevent biometric spoofing. This is why access management and reporting are essential components of a biometric access control system.

Existing credentials, change logs, reports, and more can give you an overview of physical identities in your system. You can also use this information to actively monitor and set up rules so that, should a spoofing attempt occur, the system can detect anomalies and send out alerts.

5. Use Machine Learning and Keep Up With Regular Updates

Regularly maintaining and updating the physical components and the software of your security systems is essential to keeping them working properly. This is one of the top best practices for managing and maintaining security systems. It also ensures your systems stay current to effectively combat evolving security risks and threats, including anti-spoofing.

This is especially true for software that uses AI and machine learning to analyze information and incidents. Not only can this help identify anomalies and patterns that could indicate spoofing attempts, but it can also train the system to better detect attempts and help prevent hacking attempts in the future.

Regular updates and active and effective cybersecurity practices can help keep data transmission and storage more secure. Secure data transmission and properly encrypting and storing data can help prevent hackers from gaining access to it or making use of it should they get access to it. You can also implement specific access roles for who can access the data and train your team on your security systems and on these risks to help prevent them.

Get Comprehensive Security For Your Facility With NEPPS

These are just a few tips to prevent biometric spoofing and ensure your facility stays secure. Technology continues to evolve, which means potential vulnerabilities and countermeasures to address them also continue to evolve.

Working with an experienced security systems integrator can help your security products and systems keep up and keep your facility protected and secure now and in the future. If it’s time to re-evaluate your facility security and make some upgrades, contact NEPPS at 1-800-736-1456.