Biometrics in 2020
Melissa AU Team | |
From online shopping to banking and investment trading, a growing number of interactions occur through digital screens and the internet as compared to face-to-face interactions. This has prioritized the need for digital identification and authentication. With this background, biometrics is emerging as the ideal solution to improving enterprise security. Did you know why? Because of the simple reason that biometric identifiers are considered unique and cannot be replicated.
What is biometrics?
Biometrics refers to identifying and authenticating an individual’s identity through their unique biological characteristics. It is considered the most reliable form of identification since these characteristics cannot be faked or duplicated easily. Biometrics is also a preferred mode of identification since this data, unlike passwords, cannot be forgotten. Biometrics can be categorized as physiological measurements and behavioral measurements.
Physiological measurements include:
- Shape of the hand
- Vein patterns
- Iris and retina scans
- Shape of the face
- DNA, blood, saliva and urine
Behavioral measurements include:
- Voice recognition
- Keystroke dynamics
- Gestures used while talking
Biometric data may be used singularly or combined with other biometrics for increased accuracy and security. The latter is known as multimodal biometrics. Multimodal biometrics can reduce error rates considerably.
How are biometrics used?
For biometric identification to be efficient, there must first be a complete database of the biometric characteristics being used. Biometric identification captures biometric data such as the image of a fingerprint, face or voice record, etc. and compares the same to a database for identification. When it comes to using biometrics for authentication, the individual’s biometrics are collected and stored on a portable element like a smart card. When used, the biometrics stored on the card is compared to those in the database to authenticate the individual’s identity. In this way, biometric data help answer two questions:
- Who are you?
- Are you really who you say you are?
Advantages of using biometrics
Some of the key advantages of using biometrics for identification and authentication are:
- The data cannot be forged
- The data is permanent and will not change with time
- All records are universal
- The chance of finding 2 individuals with similar biometrics such as fingerprints is 1 in 64 billion
- Even identical twins have different biometrics
Biometrics and digital identity
A secure digital identity is a must today. Biometric authentication adds a layer of security and trust to the existing identities that use passwords, geolocation and two-step authentication. These forms of digital identity take into consideration biometrics such as fingerprints, iris scans, facial scans, voice patterns and more subtle biometric identifiers like gait and behavioral anomalies.
Who is using biometrics?
According to the Global Markets Insights the global biometrics market is expected to pass the $50 billion mark by 2024. Historically biometrics is used by law enforcement agencies, the military, border control and for civil identification.
Today, in addition to these enterprises, biometrics is also being used for commercial applications to identify customers/ consumers. The use of biometrics for Know Your Customer or KYC checks has made the system more efficient and reliable.
Today, it is being used by telecom operators, banks and a number of fintech organizations. Retailers are also using biometrics to identify people who require special attention such as premium customers and shoplifters. Using facial recognition, the system sends an alert to shop managers whenever such people enter a store.
Even e-commerce websites are beginning to use biometrics for identity verification. eBay already allows registered users to authenticate themselves with physical tokens or biometrics instead of passwords. Registered buyers can sign-in to the platform with facial recognition or fingerprints on biometric-enabled android phones.
Biometrics is also being used to improve customer experiences. A number of quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are using biometrics like facial recognition scans at the ordering kiosks. At their first visit, the customer’s order is linked to their facial scan. The next time the customer visits the kiosk, a repeat order may be placed quickly on the basis of facial scan recognition. This makes reordering more efficient and helps retain customers.
To be used as a mode of identification, biometrics collected from an individual must be compared to those stored on the database. For this, biometric checks must be conducted on secure devices where the 2 biometric measures can be compared “in plaintext”.
Smart ID cards
Biometrics are being increasingly used for smart cards, tokens and identity cards. These cards incorporate biometric security features such as fingerprint matching through a microprocessor built into the card. This allows the individual to authenticate his/ her identity without needing to be connected to the central biometric database.
Biometric sensor cards
Payment cards are now being designed with integrated sensors for biometric authentication. These cards have replaced the use of PIN codes for authentication with fingerprints. When an individual uses the card to make a purchase, the payment is authenticated only if the fingerprint against the sensor matches the one stored in the database. It is a safe and convenient way to identify people. One such card has already been put in use by the Bank of Cyprus and Gemalto.
One of the advantages of using biometric sensor cards is that the individual’s biometric data is stored on the card itself instead of a central database. This protects the data in cases if and when the central database is hacked. If the card is stolen, it can still not be used as the fraudster would be unable to replicate the fingerprints stored on the card.
In the light of an increasing number of cases regarding identity fraud and document theft, biometrics has emerged as the most pertinent means of identification and authentication. Since the parameters are unique to each individual and cannot be stolen or duplicated easily, it is safe, reliable, efficient and quick. Increased public awareness, lowered sensor prices and emerging software have made biometric systems easier to incorporate and apply. Today, whether one talks of brick and mortar storefronts or ecommerce websites, biometrics is a key player in identity verification and fraud prevention.