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Roger Clarke's 'Biometric Insecurity'

Biometric Insecurity

Roger Clarke

Principal, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra

Visiting Professor, Baker & McKenzie Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre, University of N.S.W.

Visiting Professor, E-Commerce Programme, University of Hong Kong

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

This Abstract and Slide-Set were prepared for an invited presentation to the AusCERT Conference, Gold Coast, 24 May 2004

Version of 14 May 2004

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 2004

Available under an AEShareNet Free
for Education licence

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Years later, the 11-September-2001 hysteria continues to warp discussions about, and implementations of, security measures. A great deal of activity has been, and remains, misguided, ill-judged, illogical and politically-motivated - in short, deeply unprofessional.

This paper examines one of the worst examples of this pervading unprofessionalism: the enthusiasm for and deployment of biometric technologies that don't work in applications that they're unsuited for. The ongoing manic state of national security agencies has enabled marketers to sell snake-oil with more fervour and less restraint than ever before. Government buyers have suspended their disbelief in ways that are fine in the theatre, but are seriously dangerous to security.

The use of 'biometrics' as a mantra has deflected attention and investment away from security measures that could be effective, in favour of placebos. Biometrics do not, and cannot, deliver security. We are suffering from biometric insecurity.

Supporting Resources

The following PowerPoint slide-sets are available:

An index is provided to my papers on biometrics topics.

A substantial bibliography is also available.

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From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

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Created: 6 May 2004 - Last Amended: 14 May 2004 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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