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Biometric security could have protected 25m lost data files

“The recent loss by HMRC of personal data on 25 million people would never have happened had the data been protected by biometric security” said Mathew James, Managing Director of UK Biometrics Ltd.

It is a view endorsed today by Chancellor Alistair Darling (speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today programme) who said:

“We need to ask ourselves is how we can ensure in the future that information is not passed on to third parties without the consent of the individual. Using biometric details you can be surer of the identity of the person who is requesting the information”

The Home Office insisted that the biometric elements in its database, the electronic fingerprints and facial scans, will keep it secure and proof against identity theft, even if there were to be a major breach and stolen confidential data.

"The biometrics mean that it will be much more difficult to use somebody else's identity, as they will have to provide the correct fingerprint or facial image at the same time. You can't create a fingerprint or a face," said a Home Office spokesman.

Mathew James said:

“Biometrics offers the one key that cannot be lost, stole, hacked, forged or passed to an unauthorised person – the human fingerprint. The debates about the security of biometric data and of human rights issues are over. To date nobody, not police, security experts or the military has ever been able to recreate an identity from the encrypted data we store. An IT savvy criminal would not even bother trying to hack one of our systems. Biometrics is welcomed by business, schools, the health service, Government and individuals to protect data, buildings and homes. Had the data recently lost by HMRC been protected by biometric technology we could all sleep safe in our beds knowing it absolutely could not fall into the wrong hands”.

“UK Biometrics latest ‘Second Generation’ biometric scanners read the fingerprint and sub-dermal ridges returning zero error rates an eliminating ‘spoof attacks’ (prosthetic or fake fingerprints) using patented multispectral technology. Our challenge today is not developing the technology. The technology is here. Our challenge is to present the facts about biometrics and the unrivalled security it offers. One thing is for sure, biometric technology is here to stay and will impact upon the lives of everyone in the UK, protecting data, buildings and homes as never before”.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.