Biometrics are a powerful form of identification that adds another layer of security to systems. Biometrics are hard to replicate and can be used to eliminate reliance on passwords, codes, or key cards that can be stolen or lost.
However, like other forms of authentication, biometrics are vulnerable to spoofing attacks. The best way to protect against these threats is to combine biometrics with multi-factor authentication.
Unlike passwords or PINs, which can be forgotten, stolen or compromised, biometrics are a unique and intrinsic part of an individual. From fingerprint scanners found on most smartphones, to facial recognition technology used to protect online banking and other financial services, or ECG-reading bracelets that verify the identity of a user’s heartbeat, biometric systems offer a highly secure and inclusive alternative to traditional authentication methods.
When paired with a device passcode, such as on most modern smartphones, biometric verification can help increase security without a significant drop in usability. It’s also an ideal solution for enabling remote enrollment and authentication, which can benefit many users in a range of industries including mobile carriers, financial institutions, insurance companies, sharing and gig economy platforms, telehealth providers, e-learning centers, and government agencies.
Choosing the right biometrics modality to support specific business needs is important. Physiological modalities like facial, finger or iris, are simple to integrate because they require no specialist hardware and can be enabled on devices that already have cameras. They deliver high success rates with minimal drop-off and can be designed to be inclusive to ensure everyone is able to participate.
Biometrics are a more reliable way to verify an individual’s identity than tokens such as passwords and PINs. Unlike these credentials, biometrics do not lend themselves to being stolen or compromised. Biometrics are also tied to physical characteristics, which means unauthorized individuals can’t get access to them by using a password hack or other method.
However, like any security system, there are still risks involved in implementing a biometric solution. Biometric systems may be subject to system failures like a power outage or software bugs that affect how they function.
Additionally, these systems can be spoofed with high-quality replicas of facial features or fingerprints. These “deepfakes” can be difficult to detect and can cause the biometrics to fail. For this reason, it is important to implement two-factor authentication when implementing biometrics. For example, a device could require a fingerprint scan, iris scan or voice recognition to sign in. A separate password would then be required to enter the account.
Unlike other forms of authentication, such as passwords and badges, biometrics are a way to authenticate someone that cannot be forgotten, stolen or faked. It’s impossible to replicate fingerprints, iris scans or facial features. For these reasons, they offer the highest levels of security.
Biometric security systems are also more secure than password-based systems because it’s easier to hack a password than it is to steal an actual fingerprint or voice. But this does not mean that biometrics are completely foolproof.
It’s important to remember that biometrics are not immune to data breaches and hacking, but it is a much more difficult task than stealing a password. This is one reason why the best biometrics systems store data on the device that needs to verify it, rather than a central database. This makes the system more resistant to hackers and can be a good way to prevent identity theft.
As a growing method of authentication, biometrics can help enterprises meet regulations and compliance standards. While many traditional forms of security, including passwords and codes, can be compromised by hacking or even simple human error, biometric verification systems are more secure because they eliminate the need for employees to keep and share access credentials.
In addition, most biometric modalities like fingerprints, retinal scans, and voice recognition software are highly accurate, so data breaches are less likely. And unlike physical keys or cards, biometric data cannot be lost, stolen, forged, or forgotten.
However, while biometrics offer a number of benefits, they do have some drawbacks. For example, if someone’s face or fingerprint changes due to illness or injury, they will need to have the system re-enrolled, which can be a significant inconvenience for users. Additionally, biometrics rely on electricity to function and can be affected by power outages. For these reasons, it is important to consider fallback methods when deploying any biometric authentication solution.