Report: biometric information vulnerable to thieves

Plans for biometric identity cards and a national ID database will play into the hands of Mafia bosses, MPs have been warned.

Crime bosses would get hold of a person's unique fingerprint data and capture his or her identity forever, said Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University.

In evidence quoted by a new Commons report, he says: "There is a fundamental security engineering problem with biometrics as opposed to the cryptographic keys in your chip and pin card.

Once your biometrics become compromised, you cannot revoke them. It is not practical to do eye or finger transplants.

Once you start using biometrics on a very wide scale, for all sorts of everyday transactions, the Mafia will also have your biometrics. You do not know which shops are owned by the Mafia but if you end up having to put your fingerprint on the glass every time that you buy a can of Coke, sooner or later the Mafia will have the biometrics of millions of people.' The powerful Commons' Home Affairs Committee called on the Home Office to prepare 'contingency plans to be implemented in the event of a loss or theft of biometric information from its databases"

ID cards for British citizens will be introduced from next year. They will be voluntary until the next Election, after which the Commons will vote on making them compulsory. But David Cameron would scrap the project if he becomes Prime Minister. A Home Office spokeswoman said: 'Biometric information will be encrypted from the moment a person is enrolled right through to the National Identity Register.

"Once on the register, they will be protected by the physical and technical controls that are in place.

The biometrics store will be held at a very high security level as we understand the importance and risks around unauthorised exposure of biometrics."

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