As technology advances, new faults and threats emerge, making cyber security a top priority. Along with these developments, we must remember that hackers are changing as well, and they continue to pose a threat to cyberspace. Because traditional security measures, like passwords, have proven unsuccessful, biometric security is becoming the preferred option for many organizations and individuals to protect their cyberspace from threat actors. Facial recognition and fingerprint scanning are examples of technologies that have become commonplace. Every day, it appears that more data breaches are reported by both major and small businesses.
Organizations are realizing that they need to quickly engage with new security measures as these events develop. Companies are abandoning passwords in favor of biometric authentication technologies, without fully considering the implications. As we continue to incorporate biometrics into our daily lives, the sector is growing at an exponential rate. In just five years, the industry may be worth more than $68 billion, or little more than £50 billion.
What is Biometrics?
For a simple biometrics description, biological measurements — or physical features — that can be used to identify individuals are known as biometrics. Fingerprint mapping, facial recognition, and retina scanning, for example, are all examples of biometric technology, although these are only the most well-known. Researchers say that the shape of one’s ear, the way one sits and moves, unique body odors, veins in one’s hands, and even facial contortions are all unique identifiers.
Three Types of Biometrics Security
While biometrics can be used for various purposes, they are most commonly utilized in security. Biometrics are divided into three categories:
- Biometrics in biology
- Biometrics based on morphology
- Biometrics of behavior
In biological biometrics, genetic and molecular features are used. These could include things like your DNA or blood, which could be analyzed using a sample of your bodily fluids.
In morphological biometrics, the structure of your body is taken into account. More bodily traits can be mapped to be used with security scanners, such as your eye, fingerprint, or face shape.
Behavioral biometrics are based on patterns that are specific to each individual. If your walking, speaking, or typing habits are recorded, they can reveal personal information.
Examples of Biometric Security
These are some common examples of biometric security:
- Voice Recognition
- Fingerprint Scanning
- Facial Recognition
- Iris Recognition
- Heart-Rate Sensors
Biometric security has already proven to be useful in a variety of businesses.
Sensitive documents and valuables are protected using advanced biometrics. Citibank already utilizes speech recognition, and Halifax, a British bank, is experimenting with gadgets that monitor a customer’s heartbeat to authenticate their identity. Ford is exploring incorporating biometric sensors into its vehicles.
Biometrics are used in electronic passports all around the world. E-passports in the United States include a chip with a digital photograph of the bearer’s face, fingerprint, or iris, as well as technology that prohibits the chip from being read — and the data skimmed — by unauthorized data readers.
Finger or Palm Veins Recognition
The unique pattern of blood veins on a person’s finger (or hand) is used to identify them in vein recognition. It uses infrared light to map the veins beneath the skin of your fingerprints or hands.
In iris or retina recognition, a person’s unique pattern of retina or iris is utilized to identify them. This technique of biometric verification is more difficult to deploy since it requires minimal light pollution, a camera that can see infrared, and an infrared light source to ensure accuracy.
Face recognition systems employ a person’s unique facial anatomy to identify them. It has a wide range of applications, including law enforcement, credit card payments, and smartphones.
Fingerprint authentication uses a person’s unique fingerprint to verify their identification.
It’s one of the most extensively used biometric verification systems, with uses ranging from cell phones to autos to even buildings. Behavioral biometrics, on the other hand, assesses an individual’s distinct ways of acting or any pattern of behavior that can be attributed to a certain individual.
Behavioral biometrics include the following:
- Walking Gait
- Keystroke Dynamics
- Finger and Mouse Movements
- Typing Patterns
- Speaker Recognition
- Walking Gait Recognition
A person’s walking style is used to identify them in gait recognition. Because everyone walks a bit differently, paying attention to how they put one foot in front of the other is a smart way to establish their identity.
Voice recognition (or voice biometry for cybersecurity purposes) uses the distinctive frequencies, pitch, and tone of a person’s voice to authenticate their identity.
When users call a call center for customer service help, such as online banking, this is now the most generally used method of validation. Some of these behavioral biometrics provide continuous authentication rather than a single one-time check. Biometric security solutions, both in banking and retail, as well as on mobile devices, are becoming increasingly popular. Biometrics is being used in a variety of sectors.
Let’s look at some of the businesses and industries where biometrics are being used to improve security.
Biometric security systems are used to verify a person’s identity before allowing them into a home. They also give people access to specific rooms, houses, and office buildings. As a result, keys are no longer required, and admission to buildings can be granted with the swipe of a fingertip.
Biometrics are commonly used for airport security. Many airports use iris recognition to verify the identity of an individual.
Biometric payment security is one of the financial uses of biometrics. Fingerprint scans are commonly employed for this technology, which is used to authorize transaction operations.
Biometric security is also employed in the healthcare industry for identity cards and health insurance plans. The most common type of biometrics utilized in the healthcare profession for identification is fingerprints.
Criminal identification systems also use biometric security. For example, palm print or fingerprint authentication are widely used in criminal IDs.
Many clients in the banking industry have grown tired of having to confirm their identity frequently, yet without it, the risk of identity theft will continue to rise.
Biometric security systems for banks are therefore in high demand. Many banks utilize biometrics in their smartphone apps, such as fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, and voice verification. A combination of biometrics is also used by some banks. When multi-factor authentication and biometrics are integrated, an almost impenetrable layer of security is generated.
Biometrics – Identity & Privacy Concerns
Biometric authentication is convenient, but privacy advocates worry that it violates personal privacy. Personal information could be collected rapidly and without consent, which is a source of concern.
Facial recognition is commonplace in Chinese cities, where it is utilized for ordinary purchases, while CCTV cameras are ubiquitous in London. New York, Chicago, and Moscow are already connecting their city’s CCTV cameras to facial recognition databases to aid local police in their fight against crime. Carnegie Mellon University is developing a camera that can scan the irises of people in crowds from a distance of 10 meters, advancing the technology.
In 2018, the Dubai airport implemented facial recognition, with travelers passing through a tunnel in a virtual aquarium being photographed by 80 cameras. Other airports throughout the world, including those in Helsinki, Amsterdam, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Tampa, use facial recognition cameras. All of that data has to be stored someplace, raising concerns about ongoing surveillance and data exploitation.
Biometric Data Security Concerns
A more urgent issue is that hackers target databases containing personal information. When the Office of Personnel Management in the United States was hacked in 2015, fraudsters stole the fingerprints of 5.6 million government employees, putting them exposed to identity theft.
Even when the data is encrypted, storing biometric data on a device – such as the iPhone’s TouchID or Face ID – is deemed safer than storing it with a service provider. That risk is comparable to that of a password database, where hackers could break into the system and steal information that isn’t properly protected. The ramifications, on the other hand, are vastly different. It is possible to update a password if it has been compromised. In a contract, biometric data stays the same permanently.
Benefits of Biometrics
- Convenience- Biometrics eliminate the need to re-enter passwords if they are forgotten. Once the biometrics have been activated, they can be integrated into the system or device of your choice.
- Spoofing – Because biometric data is extremely difficult to steal or forge, hackers may be unable or unwilling to invest the time and effort required to crack a biometric security system.
Drawbacks of Biometrics
- Costs – As one might expect, modern systems necessitate large investments, which many businesses cannot afford. It’s the most common reason why businesses don’t use biometric authentication.
- Breach of Data – Hackers may find it difficult to recreate biometric data, but it is not impossible. There is no way to replace a person’s biometric data after it has been hacked. Biometrics, unlike passwords, are irreplaceable since each person’s biometric identity is unique and cannot be altered.
- Tracking – When using technologies like facial recognition, it’s important to keep privacy in mind. When biometrics are converted to data and stored, users incur the risk of leaving a permanent digital record that might be monitored by threat actors, especially in areas with extensive surveillance. Face-recognition software may be used by businesses and governments to follow and identify people with alarming accuracy, drastically limiting privacy.
- Appearance- Although rarely at the front of people’s minds when it comes to biometrics, a physical alteration is something to think about when designing safe authentication. Changes in biomarkers can occur as a result of anything from a little finger injury to a more significant alteration in facial shape as a result of an accident. Users may face issues if biometric authentication is the only technique used.