Previously, we’ve observed that biometrics such as fingerprinting were most famous on smartphones while now about 1⁄4th of organizations are using fingerprint scanning laptops followed by tablets and other innovative inventions. It is a fact that in today’s age, more than half of the organizations are using fingerprinting scanning in one way or the other.
Customers are increasingly and wholeheartedly accepting and trusting biometrics authentication methods, all thanks to Apple’s fingerprint recognition system which is quite easy to use. Now, instead of remembering complex passwords, customers use a thumbprint, their face, and even voice to open accounts and process transactions.
Biometrics authentications are not just convenient to use but are also perceived to be a much secure way to access accounts. A survey found that 46% of the respondents believe biometrics are safer than the traditional passwords and pin codes. But whether biometrics have altogether out warded passwords is still a point of argument.
Before we get into the debate of how biometrics authentication is better than passwords, let’s have a brief rundown of how biometrics increases online security with multiple benefits it offers to the users.
How Biometric Authentication Increases Online Security?
The main reason why biometrics identifiers have much significance is that they’re unique to people. When compared with various token-based systems or knowledge-based identifiers such as passwords, biometric identifiers can more confidently confirm your identity.
According to a Spiceworks survey, about 62% of the organizations in North America use biometric authentication technologies. And it is also predicted that by 2020, an additional 24% are planning to adopt this technology.
Most people use an alternative of the same password for all of the sites they visit. Individuals usually change a number or add a unique character to their original passwords, while some people are so sluggish that they use the most obvious passwords.
Iflscience.com listed the top most hacked passwords of 2017. Some of the most hacked passwords include; 12345, football, iloveyou, qwerty, admin, welcome, monkey, and abc123. These are just examples of how simple it is to break into anyone’s devices. If many people adopt this culture, then without any doubt, biometric authentication is much stronger than passwords.
Reasons How Is Biometrics Authentication IS Better Than Passwords
The following mentioned below are some other reasons which prove how biometrics offer greater security to the users.
- Difficult To Replicate
When it comes to biometric voiceprints- they are sets of mathematical algorithms and not the customer’s original voice. Thus even a hacker hacks a system and gets voiceprints, the algorithm is useless to the fraudster. The hacker might try to replicate the voice, but most biometric technologies have fraud detection systems that can identify recorded and synthesized voices.
The attackers might also try to use some high-resolution photographs to fool the facial-recognition software. But, the software is one step ahead, needing the customer to perform some movements like blinking to show that they are who they claim to be and not just a printed facsimile.
- Uses Unique Data
Uniqueness and specificity are completely absent from most of the passwords. However, this is essential in keeping a high level of security, mainly when four out of five data breaches take place because of weak passwords.
People can quickly generate alphanumeric passwords that appear challenging to decrypt and difficult to copy. The fact that traditional passwords are artificially produced and exist outside also means that they can be easily replicated.
However, the case is different for biometric data because the patterns that signify a unique identity occur naturally. Biological attributes have become a vital part of a person’s digital identity and are confirmed right from the location where the person is physically present.
Unlike PIN codes that might be forgotten with time, biometric data remains inherent in a person, as this involves both physical and behavioral characteristics.
- Support Multi-Factor Authentication
Users also prefer key passwords or even draw lock patterns on their device, but still, are looking for an extra layer of security. In this scenario, biometric authentication can be used in conjunction with other modes of verification.
Most of the security systems can accommodate any combination of physical and behavioral cues along with nominal codes to act. For example, an individual can enter a password, then proceed with an iris scan, combine facial recognition along with voice recognition scans, or even swipe an access card, and then proceed with a fingerprint scan.
- Safe and Secure From Cyber-Attacks
The most common and prevalent cybersecurity threats come in the shape of phishing attacks and identity theft through spoofing or impersonation.
Phishing attacks are the ones that deceive users in providing their confidential data or influences them into clicking or downloading a file that gives attackers easy access to their systems. An integral part of the phishing attack is how it is made to look like a legal request so that the target can give their security details into a fake login portal.
Phishing attacks occur less when biometric data is being used through multi-factor authentication. It is when the system needs not just the passwords but also the actual scan of an individual’s physical or behavioral feature while launching an app or confirming a transaction.
Over time, the popularity of mobile banking apps has encouraged banks to switch towards biometric authentication as a more redefined and advanced method for users to transact through the app. Organizations are also boosting security against hackers who uses the victim’s selfies to spoof them during a facial recognition scan.
The more hi-tech biometric authentication systems include a spoof detection tool to examine whether the sample being presented before the sensors is of a living human being or a spoof. Security protocols are also containing instructions for the user to blink and respond to questions that would be challenging to perform with a spoof.
Since more device manufacturers such as Apple are building sensors and scanners into their systems, more organizations are finding it useful to incorporate biometric authentication to boost their security features.
- Easy To Use
Memorizing passwords can be a headache at times. Rather than remembering passwords, most people prefer to use the same code across multiple platforms. In the US, for instance, the average user links up to 130 online services to a single email account. This ultimately increases the risk of losing access to different accounts once that unique password has been stolen.
Biometric authentication removes the need for users to input various passwords on any platform, or to be at risk of getting hacked across apps when they recycle the same universal password.
Is There Any Risk Of Biometric Authentication?
Every system has some risks and limitations, and a biometric password system is no exception at all. There are multiple attack risks within this type of system, as well. The first one is the use of fake fingerprints. A 3D-printed mold of a fingerprint can be used as a fake fingerprint. This experiment was performed at Clarkson University by the Center for Identification Technology Research (CITER) – the experts produced a fake print and used it to fool a fingerprint scanner successfully.
However, one can get the fingerprints without using a 3D scanner and printer. There was a case of someone faking a print and ends up hacking a phone with the most accessible tools. This example made it look like the easiest phone hacking incident that anyone can do. Such things are not only happening with criminals, but certain Federal agencies are also buying fingerprints to benefit themselves. In 2015, the USA Office of Personnel Management was hacked and resulted in 5.6 million Americans’ fingerprints being compromised. This means that security can be compromised in several different ways.
Moreover, biometric facial recognition systems can also get hacked. The older and traditional versions of facial recognition get easily bypassed with a regular picture of the individual’s face. Organizations then evolved the system and asked for a blink test to assure it wasn’t only a picture of the individual. But, it was found that the new version is also fairly bypassed, but merely using a short video of some other person’s face.
When it comes to technology, so, there are always ups and downs. The reason why we have technology is to push ourselves to get better every day. People are ready to find inadequacies and vulnerabilities in systems daily, and with this flow, the methods and technology get better and better.
Hackers will be pushing each system to become smarter and superior to the one before. They will consistently find a way to beat even the best biometric system in the same way they can sidestep a system of passwords. When this happens, people will ultimately find another new system that is better than biometric authentication. But till then, biometric authentications are the best available option for keeping your information protected and secure.
Rebecca James: Enthusiastic Cybersecurity Journalist, A creative team leader, editor of PrivacyCrypts.