Business biometrics raises ID theft risk

The growing use of biometrics by businesses to identify individuals is insecure and in need of serious attention, according to one IT systems company.

Fujitsu Siemens said that biometrics are being used to identify individuals in the business world, which makes it possible to find out whether they are the true holder of the identity they are presenting.

The IT company said that this tracking and monitoring of people was likely to be a risk if security controls were not tightened up.

"From a security perspective, we have already seen that criminals can create a number of different personas for themselves and more methods of identification means more openings for them," said David Pritchard, senior technology analyst.

"Whether it's issued by a company or a government, once an individual can associate their biometric characteristics with an identity, they effectively own that identity."

Fujitsu Siemens believes that biometric identity technology will be widespread by 2013. The number of people included in business projects would rival that of proposed national ID schemes.

"People are already carrying around several identifying documents or artefacts - car keys, passports, driving licences, bank cards," said Pritchard.

"Biometrics are being added to these items, making them uniquely identifiable and traceable to the individual."

The Government recently commissioned a report in which former banker Sir James Crosby said that within five years people were likely to be carrying several biometric identifiers.

Government, he said, needed to work with banks to create a private sector led universal ID assurance scheme, which would result in a more secure system.