Not too long ago, facial recognition was only seen in science-fiction movies, like Star Trek and the Terminator.

Now, the technology has made its way into everyday life. From medical and government applications to security locks for mobile phones, facial recognition software is on the forefront of technology.

But, what exactly is facial recognition, how is it used and is it secure?

What is Facial Recognition Technology?

Facial recognition is similar to many other forms of biometric technology, like fingerprint scanners or voice identification, in that it uses a computer to recognize certain pieces of data.

With facial recognition, a computer analyzes a photograph by looking for extremely specific markings, like brighter pixels or 3D characteristics. Once a pattern is spotted, then the computer compares it with other photos until it finds a match.

How is Facial Recognition Used?

Have you ever noticed when Facebook asks you if you want to be tagged in certain pictures? And have you ever wondered how it knew it was your face in the picture?

This is an example of facial recognition.

Facebook isn’t the only organization to use facial recognition. The technology dates back to as early as the 1960s when mathematician and computer scientist, Woodrow Bledsoe, developed a system that could classify photos of faces using a RAND tablet.

Since then, government agencies have used facial recognition to track criminals in public places. One of the most well-known applications of the technology was when Apple included this feature in the iPhone X. Instead of swiping or typing a passcode to open the device, users can use facial recognition technology to unlock the iPhone X.

Is Facial Recognition Technology Safe?

Although facial recognition is extremely advanced, not all devices are designed with security in mind.

For example: A Vietnamese security company recently bypassed a cell phone with facial recognition technology using a 3-D printed mask that cost about $150 to make. 

Some researchers found facial recognition technology can be confused with accessories like hats, sunglasses, face paint and scarves.

What Can You Do to Strengthen the Security of Facial Recognition?

Whenever using a newer technology, certain security measures should be taken to ensure your data and privacy is safe. If you use facial recognition technology, consider these cyber security tips:

  • Always use two-step verification. This means changing the settings of your device to ask for a second security authorization.
  • Never connect to public Wi-Fi. These connections are unsecure. Disable automatic connections to public networks to keep your device from connecting to an untrustworthy source without your knowledge.
  • Install proper antivirus software.
  • Change default passwords. Limit network and system access to authorized users.
  • Consider a virtual protected network (VPN)VPNs are available for download in app stores and offer a more secure way to connect while on the go.

Lastly, always contact a trusted security provider to ensure your devices are properly protected with the appropriate software.

Have you experienced facial recognition technology? Share in the comments below.