Well here are today, with some 75 Million Americans now asked to stay at home as much as possible.  I never thought in my wildest dreams that the Coronavirus would have such an impact upon society, our every day lives, and even our businesses. 

I still myself am not sure what to make of it.  I have heard stories that the flu is worse, the media is making way too much out of this, etc.  I just try to stay away from the news headlines as much as possible.

But there is one thing that is for sure.  The Coronavirus is having a huge impact upon the Cybersecurity as well.  Some Cyber businesses that I know of have actually started to thrive on it, and others have slowed down.  It just all depends where your lines of products and services are. 

The ramifications of this will be felt in our industry even long after the Coronavirus has passed, as many new threat variants have emerged from it.

I come across news headlines every day, as I am sure you do if you take notice of it.  They all pretty much say the same thing, but I came across on one which is actually very different.  It’s all about using Facial Recognition in order to help identify people who may be carrying the Coronavirus bug. 

Just as an intro, Facial Recognition is considered to be a “Physical Biometric” in the sense that is it is the physiological parts of your face that are being captured, and what is unique about it is that it can get these images without any direct contact required, unlike some of the other modalities out there.

It is the latter part that has captured the interest of the Cybersecurity industry.  So apart from just confirming the identity of the individual, the thought is now to add a temperature sensor to the technology so that it can also identify anybody who is having a fever.  Personally, I think just because somebody has the fever does not necessarily mean that they have Coronavirus per se. 

As a result of all of this, there are two vendors out there that have come up with these newer solutions:  DERMALOG, and Telpo.  They both have temperature sensing devices attached to the Facial Recognition technology, and apparently, they both can detect the temperature as far away as .7 meters and can take it in real time. 

While this seems to be a good approach to help our medical system identify those that potentially have the COVID-19 bug, there are pitfalls to it as well, which critics have already started to point out.  They are as follows:

*The issue of privacy rights:

Biometric Technologies have always been suspect to this, but it is Facial Recognition that has really received the bad rap for this.  I never really understood why this is the case, as I would think people would be even more fearful of something like Iris Recognition.  I guess there is this stigma of Big Brother watching over the public with this modality.  But anyways, this issue has been around even when Facial Recognition first came out, and it will continue to be there lingering probably even years after.  There is not much that can be done in this area, no matter how much the Biometrics industry tries to educate or train the public.  It’s just like any other security technology, garbage in and garbage out.

*The issue of data storage:

This one is much more understandable, because there are so many data leaks and data breaches that are occurring on a daily basis.  But the main fear here is how the Federal Government will store our data, and the ways in which it could be covertly used, especially if it is given out to third parties without our explicit consent.  But with the passages the GDPR and the CCPA, this should give the public a greater control over their Biometric data that is being stored, though I have not come across any parts of these laws that explicitly deal with the storage of Biometric information/data.  Some of the main fears are that advertisers could get a hold of this and build a profile of shopping behaviors in order to begin targeted advertising of various individuals.  On the other end of the spectrum, there is also fear that Cyberattackers could literally stalk their victims in the virtual world by scraping even more pictures off of the social media sites in order to build up a comprehensive profile of their targeted victims.

My Thoughts On This

Right now, given the current climate of everybody’s fears and anxieties, there is a strong movement now to start using Facial Recognition to help doctors in the ER to identify those patients quickly with a temperature, rather than having to diagnose each patient individually, both from a safety and efficiency standpoint.  

There is also the added advantage since that Facial Recognition is a non-contactless type of modality, that it should be used to replace others like Fingerprint Recognition, because in most cases, direct is required between the tip of the finger and the and the optical sensor.

But in the end, we all need to think logically clearly and clearly here.  First of all, there is no need to jump on the bandwagon to start using Facial Recognition technology to help fight off the COVID-19.  This episode will end eventually, and things will start to get back to normal.  We just can’t be locked up as a society for a long period of time.  Also, keep the events of 9/11 in mind.

After these horrific incidents occurred, Biometric Technology, especially that of Facial Recognition, was receiving all of the accolades in the world as to how it will stop terrorism.  Money was being poured into those Biometric vendors that made Facial Recognition technology, and in many ways, it sort of felt like the dot com craze again.  But after awhile, after Facial Recognition failed to live up to all of this hype, it was then branded to be the most useless security tool ever created.

True, Facial Recognition has made great strides in terms of advancements, but when compared to the other Biometrics that are out there, it still as a long way to go.  Just because we are in the midst of a pandemic right now, it does mean at all that we should discount the use of Fingerprint Recognition. 

For example, it is the one modality that has been around the longest and is the most proven.  Nobody, as far as know, has contracted a serious illness from it yet, and there is no reason to believe in now that anyone will contract the COVID-19 from it by merely touching the optical sensor for a few seconds.

If people are that paranoid, then all that is needed is a simple wipe down of the sensor with a basic cleansing solution.  In fact, Fingerprint Recognition has even evolved to the point where it is now even non contactless also.  Also, Iris Recognition should never be discounted either.  It is a very proven and viable modality, and in my opinion, even far more robust than Facial Recognition. 

Why can’t the Biometric Vendors use this instead in order to track down people with a fever?