Coronavirus and Biometric Authentication
Unless you are in the funeral business, death is not a topic that people want to talk about. But this post is really about preparation, so please read on and forgive the reference to mortality.
With the rising mortality from COVID-19 infections, and the latest computer modeling estimates for the next two months of the pandemic, We are each likely to know someone who will succumb to COVID-19.
The #Coronavirus #pandemic is occurring at a time when BiometricAuthentication on mobile devices (and others) is widely used. How are coronavirus pandemic and biometric authentication related?
One of the consequences of COVID-19 mortality is the potential infection and spread of the virus to health workers or others afterwards. For this reason, families and loved ones are not given the ability to say goodbye or grieve as they typically would. Italy is a good example of what is likely to become commonplace in the near future. Many victims of COVID-19 die in isolation, never to be visited by family, and their remains are buried or cremated quickly for health safety reasons.
Consider that we all have a lot of important private data on our mobile devices, but these devices must be treated as infectious, too. And although they can be cleaned and returned to family members, if the device is locked with biometric authentication or a second biometric factor (2FA) is needed to unlock it, it is likely to remain locked. This pandemic is tragic on many levels, but even more tragic is that remaining family members may have extreme difficulty in accessing important personal information from the mobile device of the deceased. Biometric authentication (such as facial recognition or fingerprint), as it turns out, is intentionally designed to prevent authentication if a person is not living.
Five Thing You Can Do to Prepare
Here are five steps you can take to prepare for this unintended but tragic consequence of the pandemic.
- Ask your loved ones about whether or not they use biometric authentication on their mobile devices.
- Also ask them where they keep their important personal data. Locate critical documents now and make physical copies. You may not be able to access these documents if your loved one succumbs to COVID-19.
- If they don’t already have a will or other medical directives (such as power of attorney), now is the time to encourage them to put those in place. These might be difficult conversations, and they may be reluctant to do this, but think of this as similar to a vaccine that would be used to protect against the virus. Once it's done, you're protected if the worst were to occur. These are important documents to protect loved ones who survive and must handle the estate.
- If biometric authentication is used on their devices, turn it off or disable it and restore login with a strong password. Or at least ensure that the biometrically-protected devices also offer #password authentication as an alternative access method.
- Follow the same four steps above for yourself and make sure your loved ones have what they need to avoid additional burdens from this tragic pandemic.
I hope and pray that COVID-19 does not strike you or your family. As the saying goes "hope is not a plan." So I am sharing the plan above to help lessen a negative consequence of COVID-19 mortality.
I have never been a fan of widespread biometrics use for personal security (such as authentication). Sadly the Coronavirus pandemic is giving us unexpected evidence of why biometrics should not be a universal authentication practice. Passwords are still the right solution for everyday life. They can be simple and convenient and strong, too. That’s why Hopr recommends use of DynamicPasswords. One simple formula protects all your passwords.