The OPM hack and Biometric Authentication

For a long time, biometric authentication has been considered to be the safest and more secure way of identifying users and granting access to IT and non-IT services. It has just one serious drawback: you cannot change the biometric credentials, this is centainly “you”, and if your biometric credentials are stolen, someone could impersonate “you”.

This is what has happened in the OPM hack, the latest news reports that 5.6 million fingerprints of USA federal employees have been stolen, see wired for example. Information about this is scarce and it is not clear which is the format of the stolen fingerprints and how easy it could be to reproduce them. Security experts believe that it will be possible, sooner or later, to reproduce them, it is just a question of time, technology and money.

So what about the persons who have their fingerprints stolen and possibly reproduced by others? What about the security consequences for companies and the state?

How can we use the security of biometrics without the associated risk of impersonation?