Software used in FBI’s biometric database contains Russian code: Report

The allegations that Russia hacked the 2016 elections in the United States are known to many but now biometric data of millions of American citizens may or may not be at risk of being compromised as software used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and 18,000 other American law enforcement agencies to store biometric data carries a code developed by a Russian company linked to the Russian government.

According to the latest report by BuzzFeed, a French company called Sagem Sécurité (now known as Morpho) sold biometric software to the FBI but did not inform the agency that the code used in the software was developed by Russian firm Papillon AO.

BuzzFeed published the report after two French whistleblowers who worked for Morpho spoke out and emphasized that authorities should be concerned about the presence of Russian code in a software since Papillon has close ties with several Kremlin security and intelligence agencies including KGB’s replacement Federal Security Service (FSB).

The NewYork based BuzzFeed also reviewed a 2008 contact between Papillon and Morpho regarding the purchase of the code which maintains that it does not carry any backdoor “or any “virus, ‘Trojan horse,’ ‘worm,’ or other software routines or hardware components designed to permit unauthorized access, to disable, erase, or otherwise harm the software, hardware, or data.”

Software used in FBI' biometric database contains Russian code: Report
Morpho Fingerprint Identification Technology

Papillon, on the other hand, has also denied the presence of any backdoor in the code. The FBI, however, did not reply to questions asked by BuzzFeed although they did offer a statement in which the agency said: “As is typical for all commercial software that we operate, appropriate security reviews were completed prior to operational deployment.”

In October 2016 report it was revealed that one out of two American adults is part of the FBI’s facial recognition database. Therefore, the use of software provided by a Russian firm with links to the Kremlin should be concerning, cited BuzzFeed.

Recently, the cybersecurity giant and Internet security software provider Kaspersky was slapped with a ban from providing its product to the US military due to its alleged ties with Kremlin and its intelligence agency FSB. The report also claimed that Russia stole NSA hacking tools using Kaspersky software.

Watch Morpho’s Biometric technology advertisement:

Read more on BuzzFeed.


Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.