Ok, summer has finally started, and in a great way!  Happy Summer everybody!  Remember, just because COVID19 is still out there, does not mean that you still cannot enjoy your summer.  Just take the precautions that your local municipalities have set forth, and you will be simply fine.

Speaking of which, as you know, on a daily basis, I go through about 20 different websites on Cybersecurity, and bring to you the latest headlines that I think are relevant to you.

In order to get them, you can follow me on Twitter (@cadmiumadvtech) or on Linked In (www.mylinkedin.store).  The good news here is that I am seeing the total number of headlines actually starting to slowdown about COVID19. 

I do not what the attribution to this is, whether people are just so saturated by it, or just have accepted that it is a part of normal, daily life, I have no idea.  But it is refreshing to see some other news headlines come up now.

So, what is new?  Well, there is the IoT, AI, how to fill the Cybersecurity worker shortage, GDPR, CCPA, etc.  But there is something else that is now appearing, which has sort flaked on an off, because of COVID19.  What that might be?  Well, it is about Facial Recognition. 

When I first started in the world of security, I got my exposure into it by doing work in Biometrics.  Simply put, this is just another security technology which can further confirm your identity based upon your unique physiological and/or behavioral characteristics.

You have may have heard about Biometrics, especially when it comes to using it for Two Factor Authentication (2FA), or as a replacement to those pesky passwords that still linger around us.  Biometrics has been around us for a long, actually. 

In fact, they have been around since the 1960s when Hand Geometry Recognition first came out.  But now, the technology has advanced very quickly, and has seen widespread adoption, except here in the United States (a future blog will explain this why this is the case).

So, you may be asking now what is so special about Facial Recognition?  Well, it is one of those specific technologies that seem to be leave an eerie feeling amongst the populations of the world, especially those in Europe and even here in the United States.  But it is now getting rapid attention, because of its potential use in identifying those people who may have COVID19.

For example, there have been some pilot tests which have been conducted to see if an individual’s temperature can be taken without popping a thermometer in their mouth.  In other words, the concept of “Thermal Imaging” is being explored in this regard. 

But also, in the recent headlines, Facial Recognition has also received a bad rap because many people, especially those involved with Civil Liberties and Privacy Rights, feel that this violates their Constitutional Rights (again, this is a topic for a future blog).

As such, there are certain parts of the world that have adopted Facial Recognition, and then there are those that have not.  So, to give you some further insight into this, I though I would break away from my normal Cyber related angles and show you some of the key statistics as to how Facial Recognition is really being adopted.  Here we go:

*In the United States:

(SOURCE:  https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92483-smile-youre-on-camera-the-facial-recognition-world-map)

From the above diagram, you can see that:

*Almost 30% of Americans feel that Facial Recognition should be banned all together;

*San Francisco became the first US city to ban the use of Facial Recognition in 2019;

*The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects that by 2023, 97% of all people travelling by air will have their face scanned.

*In Europe:

SOURCE:  https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92483-smile-youre-on-camera-the-facial-recognition-world-map)

Here are some of the key stats from the above diagram:

*Belgium is the only country in the European Union (EU) that has completely outlawed the use of Facial Recognition;

*In one study conducted in the United Kingdom (UK), it was discovered that Facial Recognition failed at least 96% of the time;

*Germany plans to install Facial Recognition systems in at least 134 train stations, and 14 major airports;

*Nice, France has the greatest number of Facial Recognition systems deployed, at 1 for every 342 people living there.

*In South America:

(SOURCE:  https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92483-smile-youre-on-camera-the-facial-recognition-world-map)

As one can see from the above diagram:

*Facial Recognition is currently being used in at least 92% of the countries in South America;

*In Brazil, this technology ahs been deployed in 37 major cities;

*Argentina is a heavy adopter of Facial Recognition, in that it helped law enforcement officials to make well over 600 positive identifications in just a 6-week timespan back in 2019.

*In Asia:

(SOURCE:  https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92483-smile-youre-on-camera-the-facial-recognition-world-map)

From the above illustration, one can quite easily tell that China is the big market player here.  For example:

*It has filed for well over 900 Facial Recognition patents, with 97% of them being here in the United States;

*1 in every 12 Chinese is being tracked by a Facial Recognition system;

*It will account for at least 45% of the total world market share in Facial Recognition;

*Japan is planning to have Facial Recognition system in all its casinos and other gambling resorts all across the entire country;

*Singapore is also planning to deploy at least 111,000 Facial Recognition systems on a nationwide basis.

In Africa:

(SOURCE:  https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92483-smile-youre-on-camera-the-facial-recognition-world-map)

*Facial Recognition systems are being used in only 20% of the nations (which is actually quite surprising);

*Morocco has banned the use of Facial Recognition systems for at least 7 consecutive months;

*The government of Uganda recently spent $126 million in deploying Facial Recognition systems on a nationwide basis.

My Thoughts On This:

The statistics that I have presented to you are just on an extremely high, or macro level.  There is obviously much more that goes behind the scenes, and in fact one could even write an entire book about this topic (in fact, I wrote three of them – one of them even specifically dealt with this topic, as to these variances in the adoption rates of not only just Facial Recognition, but all of the other Physical and Behavioral based modalities as well).

Really, it comes to no surprise to me that the EU and the United States are the laggards in the adoption rate of Facial Recognition.  Obviously, there are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that in these countries, for the most part, all people who have origins in these geographic regions are counted and recognized as citizens, and thus, are entitled to government sponsored benefits. 

As such, if these citizens are not recognized by them, then these citizens can take legal action to get what there are entitled to.

But this is not the case in either China or Africa.  People are not truly recognized there, and there is no legal recourse for them to take if they denied or deprived of government sponsored benefits or entitlements. 

But by using Facial Recognition, this gives these individuals a chance to be finally counted as unique people to their country, because they now have a form of Digital Identity, which for the most part, is completely irrefutable.  That is why the adoption rate is high here.

Actually, the hype of surrounding Facial Recognition goes all the way back to 2001, then 9/11 occurred.  After this horrible incident, Facial Recognition received all the hype that it would be the next best thing to stop terrorist attacks. 

In fact, Venture Capitalists (VCs) were even pumping money into those Facial Recognition systems like it was the Internet Bubble yet once again. But when it failed to live up to all of this, it pretty much got booed upon, and unfairly so.

One has to keep in mind that there is nothing mysterious to Biometric technology.  It is just like any other security tool, which presents and analyzes data in the proverbial “garbage in-garbage out” format.  It has its fair share of advantages and weaknesses, just like everything else in life. 

In fact, in this regard, Facial Recognition as well as the other Biometric modalities are best used in a layered security approach, such as that of 2FA or Multifactor Authentication (MFA).  It should never be relied upon as the sole means in which to beef up the lines of defenses for any business, or even that of any individual. 

As mentioned before, with the advent of COVID19, it is quite conceivable that Facial Recognition could once again make a huge comeback.  The primary reason for this is that it is deemed to be a “non-contactless” type of technology, in that no direct contact is required by the individual.  Rather, the camera of the Facial Recognition system can actually take an image of the individual’s face from quite a far distance.

In this regard, most of the Biometric technologies that require a direct contact by the individual (such as that of Fingerprint Recognition) have been predicted that their usefulness will wane out soon, in favor of other Biometric modalities that require no touch, such as even that of Iris Recognition.

In the end, only time will tell how Facial Recognition will fare in the end.  It has made it thus far and will most likely so well into the future.