CHICAGO (CBS) — If you think the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data breach announced this week doesn’t affect you, think again.
The federal hack involving thousands of photos of travelers and their cars didn’t happen in our backyards, but experts say, in a way, this breach affects all of us.
Grocery shopping, having dinner, walking down the street — we are always on camera. So, how are those images stored? And what are they worth?
We know, in the case of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, they were worth a breach.
When it comes to identification, the future is now. It’s mainstream for Apple and Facebook users. You can log in, buy something online or have a photo attached to your name with your face. But facial recognition could be happening when you don’t realize it.
“It’s really frightening,” said Ed Yohnka, the ACLU Illinois director of communications and public policy. “These are images that are used with technology that allows you to identify the person with the images. I think this is really significant and scary.”
“Facial recognition and the algorithms of facial recognition are going to be the equivalent of a Social Security number in the near future,” said Bill Kresse, an associate professor at Governors State University. “If a government agency has a database with your face in it, they can match it up with you walking down the street.”
The customs breach at a main U.S border crossing comes on the heels of the agency announcing biometric facial recognition technology as the future of international travel, designed to replace the boarding pass.
“Without really ensuring that we have the adequate protections in place, this is the kind of thing that cries out just for a pause, at the very least,” Yohnka said. “When you look at the use of facial recognition technology by license plate readers, by a host of local and state law enforcement agencies here in Illinois, I think all of those things are things that one should be concerned about because this data has become so valuable.”
Customs and Border Patrol officials say this incident is still being investigated, and that initial reports indicate the images involved fewer than 100,000 people entering and exiting one land border crossing. No passport or travel document photos or images of airline passengers were involved.
No CBP networks or databases were breached due to the cyber-attack.