BioStar 2 database leaked one million fingerprints, facial recognition data

A breach in a database of biometric security smart lock platform Suprema BioStar 2 exposed more than one million fingerprint records as well as facial recognition information and other sensitive data.

The web-based system is used by the likes of the U.K. Metropolitan Police to control access to physical facilities and manage users permissions. Researchers from vpnMentor led by Noam Rotem and Ran Locar on August 5 were able to access the data, which was since secured by August 13.

“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,” according to a vpnMonitor blog post. “Malicious agents could use this to hack into secure facilities and manipulate their security protocols for criminal activities.” 

Calling the breach “a huge leak that endangers both the businesses and organizations involved, as well as their employees,” the researchers said they were “able to access over 1 million fingerprint records, as well as facial recognition information” that when combined with the personal information and credentials creates a “massive” potential for criminal activity and fraud. 

Researchers alerted Suprema on Aug.7 just two days after discovering the leak but found the company “generally very uncooperative.” After numerous attempts, they spoke with a member of the vendor’s German team who said that “we don’t speak to vpnMentor” and hung up, according to the blog post. Entreaties to BioStar 2’s GDPR compliance officer were likewise rebuffed thought the researchers eventually got through to the company’s French branch and the breach was subsequently closed.

While exposed buckets have become quite commonplace, the BioStar 2 leak raised alarms. “Unlike usernames and passwords, biometric information such as fingerprints and facial recognition records cannot be changed,” said Matan Or-El, co-founder and CEO of Panorays. “And because Suprema is connected to thousands of organizations across the world, this compromised data has the power to rattle the entire supply chain.”

The breach is further warning that organizations must “be vigilant about how they outsource their customer and employee data and how that data is stored and processed,” he said. “Organizations need to ensure that their suppliers and business partners are on par with the organization’s own security standards and continuously uphold their suppliers to that standard. This should be part of their supplier management process, including vetting and continuously monitoring these suppliers to take action on any change in the security.”

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