Cybercrime is a constant threat hanging over modern life, with identity theft, malware releases, and data breaches occurring every day in the United States. It’s not just conspiracy theorists who are avoiding the Internet because of this. According to the Independent, a recent US government survey showed almost everyone is worried about cybersecurity:
“Almost half of all internet users are deliberately limiting their online activity due to concerns about cybersecurity.”
Data Breaches are Common
Is avoiding the internet an overreaction? Not if you look at some recent data breaches affecting consumers. Acer has announced that between May of 2015 and April 2016, their e-commerce store was hacked, leaving consumer credit card numbers, expiration dates, CVV numbers, names, and addresses vulnerable. According to PC World, over 34,000 customers were left vulnerable to credit card fraud, and the company has given no clear reason for why the data was compromised for so long. Sadly, this is a common occurrence, and data breaches much larger than Acer’s have been plaguing companies for years.
It’s not just credit card data that’s being compromised, however, sensitive healthcare data is also at risk. Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review reported on just the 12 most recent data breaches taking place within the 6 weeks prior to the article’s publication.
Cyber Crime a Legitimate Worry
Unfortunately, it’s still all too easy for clever hackers to get ahold of our sensitive data and use it for their own benefit. Of course, careless security measures are part of the problem, but it doesn’t stop there—we make mistakes too. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) notes that 59% of Americans use the same password for all their accounts, making cybercrime much simpler. One password is all that keeps hackers away from enormous amounts of valuable personal data. Cyber criminals also continue to become more effective as time goes on, developing new tools to overcome modern security measures.
NJIT also reports that identity theft is the most common crime Americans fear. Not a surprise when one in five of us have been involved in a high-profile data breach. Companies spend millions doing damage control, and resetting your password after a breach only scratches the surface of the recovery process.
Reclaiming the Internet with Biometrics
Companies continue to develop more sophisticated security systems, but that’s not enough to keep cybercrime rates low. Biometrics is the next step in getting people back online, and we’ve been seeing exciting new advances over the last few years.
Biometrics are measurements of our bodies and the way they interact with the world. Biometrics don’t just measure the body’s physical characteristics, like fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scans. They can also refer to the sound of a person’s voice, or even how they interact with devices they use on a daily basis. All of these metrics can be helpful in preventing identity theft and other crimes. Biometric authentication involves comparing past data with current data to help ensure identity. Currently, this method is used for some personal devices like smartphones (fingerprint recognition), but could be the best option for replacing passwords, which are very easy to compromise.
The FBI and agencies in other governments are working to fight crime in the “deep web”, the area of the Internet where most criminal activity takes place. The FBI has invested in developing its own malware to track the location of criminals on their private servers, and that’s only the beginning. In the near future, biometrics may be key to making everyone feel safer online.