How Secure is Biometrics for Digital Services

Numerous aspects of people’s daily lives are now secured by biometrics technology. A few of the first uses of biometric methods were fingerprint recognition in the workplace, law enforcement, and national identity. Consumers are currently seeing the integration of facial, voice, and iris identification in virtual assistants, airport security, banking, and mobile access.

Biometric technology is an ideal alternative to insecure passwords. Faces and fingerprints are distinctive and “unforgettable,” and every fingerprint is unique. Biometrics is one of the most straightforward and secure techniques for protecting and accessing data in digital services.

How is Biometrics Used in the Modern Times

Biometric verification is a technique for measuring a person’s unique physical attributes to confirm their identity. It is a solution to the password problem. Biometric identification does not require recalling a set of figures or enduring the threat of phishing scams. In contrast to passwords, biometric authentication is typically regarded as more secure.

Biometric authentication is employed in practically all commonly used machines, including smartphones, laptops, ATMs, smart cars, and smart homes. Here are some ways biometrics is used in digital services:

  • Facial Recognition: The technology analyzes and compares a person’s distinctive facial features for identification or authentication.
  • Iris Recognition: With this form of technology, identification is verified by analyzing the distinctive patterns in the colored circle of the eye.
  • Fingerprint Recognition: The technology enables the authentication of a person by studying and comparing a person’s finger dermal ridges.
  • Voice recognition: This refers to a system’s or program’s capacity to receive and decipher dictation or to comprehend and execute spoken commands.

Risks to Biometrics

While biometrics provides a great option for passwords, it also has vulnerabilities. For example, the size of various fingerprint-based identification sensors on mobile devices is constrained.

This limitation means that the sensors can only scan a tiny portion of a fingerprint at once. The system must take partial fingerprint images from several perspectives to get around this restriction. This ensures that at least one matches the impressions obtained during authentication.

According to research on partial fingerprint-based authentication systems, a “MasterPrint” made from actual fingerprint samples may successfully authenticate a user 26–65% of the time. The paper also demonstrated how insecure it is the more partial fingerprints that are collected for each user. It revealed that small sensors must have substantially greater resolutions to catch more fingerprints to function securely.

Another risk that biometric authentication poses are data breaches. A centralized biometrics application’s almost 30 million biometric records were exposed in 2019 after vpnMentor found a data leak. Since the users’ features are unchangeable, stolen biometrics information puts them perpetually at risk of spoofing.

The deepfake or synthetic media is another new danger to biometric authentication. The word depicts a fake image, video, or audio of a person produced using the deep learning application of artificial intelligence (AI). A bank scam was carried out in January 2020 using deepfake speech technology, which resulted in the transfer of $35 million into the wrong hands.

FIDO – A Standard for Passwordless Identity Verification

Fortunately, businesses may use solutions that not only protect against broad dangers but also leave few to no openings for fraudsters to exploit. The FIDO Alliance, a free organization of the top tech businesses in the world, developed FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) with the goal of moving away from password-based online authentication. The use of biometrics and second-factor authentication are just two ways for safer and simpler identity verification provided by the FIDO protocol suite.

The standard’s method involves employing a personal device (e.g., smartphone or token) that securely accesses FIDO-enabled services using a set of cryptographic keys. The service never stores the authentication information, such as the user’s fingerprints, which increases security.

Users benefit from increased privacy and hacker protection thanks to this configuration. Businesses are also protected from common dangers of malware, man-in-the-middle, session hijacking, and phishing attacks.

The evolution of FIDO2 from earlier FIDO standards is a step toward developing a safe password-free system. Furthermore, it is a proactive move to foresee expanding worries about biometric authentication. Integrating FIDO2 authentication standards into commercial and organizational platforms improves fraud prevention and anti-cybercrime systems.

Conclusion

The main advantages of biometric authentication over passwords and PINs are convenience and stronger security. Utilizing personal characteristics allows simple access to a physical location or online business. More significantly, biometrics are extremely difficult to hack because they are particular to each person.

However, passwordless biometric systems are not created equally. While some are made to be stronger, others have the potential to expose users to numerous dangers. The ineffective ones could work well to protect the company from typical cyber hazards. Enterprises must therefore invest in biometric solutions that follow standards like FIDO2 to sufficiently keep their clients safe from the growing cybersecurity risks.

Susan Johnson
Author: Susan Johnson

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