Cut off your fingers: Data Breach in Biometric Security Platform Affecting Millions of Users over thousands of countries – yes unencrypted and yes, editable

Led by internet privacy researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, vpnMentor’s team recently discovered a huge data breach in security platform BioStar 2.  

BioStar 2 is a web-based biometric security smart lock platform. A centralized application, it allows admins to control access to secure areas of facilities, manage user permissions, integrate with 3rd party security apps, and record activity logs.

As part of the biometric software, BioStar 2 uses facial recognition and fingerprinting technology to identify users.

The app is built by Suprema, one of the world’s top 50 security manufacturers, with the highest market share in biometric access control in the EMEA region. Suprema recently partnered with Nedap to integrate BioStar 2 into their AEOS access control system.

AEOS is used by over 5,700 organizations in 83 countries, including some of the biggest multinational businesses, many small local businesses, governments, banks, and even the UK Metropolitan Police.

The data leaked in the breach is of a highly sensitive nature. It includes detailed personal information of employees and unencrypted usernames and passwords, giving hackers access to user accounts and permissions at facilities using BioStar 2. Malicious agents could use this to hack into secure facilities and manipulate their security protocols for criminal activities. 

This is a huge leak that endangers both the businesses and organizations involved, as well as their employees. Our team was able to access over 1 million fingerprint records, as well as facial recognition information. Combined with the personal details, usernames, and passwords, the potential for criminal activity and fraud is massive. 

Once stolen, fingerprint and facial recognition information cannot be retrieved. An individual will potentially be affected for the rest of their lives.

[…]

Our team was able to access over 27.8 million records, a total of 23 gigabytes of data, which included the following information:

  • Access to client admin panels, dashboards, back end controls, and permissions
  • Fingerprint data
  • Facial recognition information and images of users
  • Unencrypted usernames, passwords, and user IDs
  • Records of entry and exit to secure areas
  • Employee records including start dates
  • Employee security levels and clearances
  • Personal details, including employee home address and emails
  • Businesses’ employee structures and hierarchies
  • Mobile device and OS information

[…]

With this leak, criminal hackers have complete access to admin accounts on BioStar 2. They can use this to take over a high-level account with complete user permissions and security clearances, and make changes to the security settings in an entire network. 

Not only can they change user permissions and lock people out of certain areas, but they can also create new user accounts – complete with facial recognition and fingerprints – to give themselves access to secure areas within a building or facility.

Furthermore, hackers can change the fingerprints of existing accounts to their own and hijack a user account to access restricted areas undetected. Hackers and other criminals could potentially create libraries of fingerprints to be used any time they want to enter somewhere without being detected.

This provides a hacker and their team open access to all restricted areas protected with BioStar 2. They also have access to activity logs, so they can delete or alter the data to hide their activities.

As a result, a hacked building’s entire security infrastructure becomes useless. Anybody with this data will have free movement to go anywhere they choose, undetected.

Source: Report: Data Breach in Biometric Security Platform Affecting Millions of Users

And there’s why biometrics are a poor choice in identification – you can’t change your fingertips, but you can edit the records. Using this data it should be fairly easy to print out fingerprints, if you can’t feel bothered to edit the database either.