Thursday, March 24, 2005

DPS database risks Texans' computer passwords

Okay, let's recap: Bill Gates says biometrics will replace everyone's computer passwords, especially for businesses, and the products enacting that vision are already hitting the market. Fine, you can't stop progress.

There are presently, to my knowledge, two types of biometrics commonly used in place of passwords:
fingerprints, and facial recognition technology. Follow me, because here's where it gets tricky.

Right now, the Texas Department of Public Safety gathers thumbprints from every applicant for a drivers license or ID card, and maintains that information in a database. HB 2337 by Rep. Corte embodies a DPS proposal to maintain everyone's facial recognition metrics in the same database.

So, if a couple of years from now somebody steals drivers' personal information from DPS, like happened recently in Nevada to one of the companies bidding to run Texas' system, and their database includes Texans' fingerprints and facial recognition data, won't the thieves have effectively stolen the passwords to private computers in thousands of Texas homes and businesses?

I'm just asking.


Scott Chaffin said...

It gets even trickier if you think about using that fingerprint-enabled laptop on a municipal wireless network. What's gonna keep City Hall from snagging it and stuffing it into a database? Or even from requiring your eyeball scan?

I definitely need to read up on this muni-wireless stuff. Sounds nice in theory, but fraught with potential for abuse.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yeah, all wireless systems on that score spook me, not just municipal owned ones. The hotspot in the Starbucks may be the biggest fear right now, I'd think. I've wondered if people are careful about using their credit card over wireless? I'd sure never do it, but maybe there's a way to make it safe.

Bruce McDougall said...

I was waiting for Bill Gates to weigh in on this one. Only someone who thinks Windows is a secure operating system would want to buy into biometrics.

Gotta go. I have spy-ware to remove from hard drive. Again.