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The convenience and availability of cloud services has seen a dramatic increase in business functionality being shifted from local servers to the cloud. Even our biometrics may be stored in the cloud. Assume your employer has signed up with a global authentication provider that stores user fingerprints in the users’ global identity accounts. Users can then use their biometric fingerprint from the cloud service to access websites rather than storing the fingerprint locally on their mobile device or computer. In theory, if an attacker gains access to your fingerprints (whether stored locally or in the cloud), they could compromise any of your online accounts that accept your fingerprints. Answer the following question(s):

Is the storage of biometric data safer locally or in the cloud? Why?
If an attacker has your fingerprints, could multifactor authentication (MFA) still prevent the attacker from gaining access to your accounts? Why or why not?

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Sample Answer

The storage of biometric data is a complex issue with no easy answers. There are pros and cons to storing biometric data locally and in the cloud.

Storing biometric data locally

  • Pros:
    • More control over the data
    • Less risk of data breaches
    • Less reliance on third-party providers
  • Cons:
    • Can be more difficult to manage
    • Can be more vulnerable to physical theft

Storing biometric data in the cloud

  • Pros:
    • More convenient
    • Easier to manage
    • More scalable
  • Cons:
    • More risk of data breaches
    • Reliance on third-party providers

Full Answer Section

Ultimately, the best way to store biometric data depends on the specific needs of the organization or individual. If the data is highly sensitive, then it may be best to store it locally. However, if the data is less sensitive, then it may be more convenient and cost-effective to store it in the cloud.

In the case of your employer, storing fingerprints in the cloud may be more convenient for users, but it also introduces the risk of a data breach. If an attacker gains access to the cloud storage, they could potentially compromise all of the user’s accounts that use fingerprints for authentication.

Multifactor authentication (MFA) can help to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access, even if an attacker has your fingerprints. MFA requires two or more factors to authenticate a user, such as a password, fingerprint, and code sent to a mobile device. This makes it more difficult for an attacker to gain access to an account, even if they have one of the factors.

In the case of your employer, MFA could be used to require users to enter their fingerprint and a code sent to their mobile device to authenticate their login. This would make it more difficult for an attacker to gain access to the user’s accounts, even if they have the user’s fingerprint.

It is important to note that MFA is not a perfect solution. It can be defeated if the attacker is able to obtain all of the factors, such as the user’s password, fingerprint, and mobile device. However, MFA can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access and is a valuable tool for protecting online accounts.

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