How Secure is Biometric Authentication?
There are many security challenges facing organizations today, especially as they continue to work remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and consider what role “work from home” policies will have on their operations. With so much work being done over mobile phones, computers, and tablets, new security measures have been necessary to keep our data secure. One such innovation is biometric authentication.
Biometrics have rapidly become part of our lives. From being a technology that we only used to see in movies to the cutting-edge technology that we use multiple times in a day, biometric authentication has become a force to be reckoned with.
What is Biometric Authentication?
Biometric authentication can be defined as a form of logical security that uses unique personal characteristics to validate or invalidate someone attempting to access a device. The fingerprint and facial recognition features used on the latest generation of smartphones are a perfect example of biometric authentication. Biometric security can easily enhance a system’s protection by giving it a unique form of credentials that cannot be duplicated, making it much easier to control who has access to secure data and environments.
What is Biometric Data?
To put it plainly, any information that is related to identifying unique human features can be classified as biometric data. There are several different types of biometric data:
- Fingerprints: This is the recognition of a finger's unique ridges. Fingerprint scans are one of the oldest and most widely used forms of biometric identification.
- Hand geometry: Once a dominant method of biometric measurement, hand geometry biometrics consist of hand characteristics such as the width and length of fingers.
- Iris recognition: This technique measures the unique folds of the thread-like muscles in the iris.
- Retina scan: These use unique near-infrared cameras to capture capillaries deep within the eye.
- Facial recognition: Measurements of facial structure and geometry are used to verify the person's identity.
- Voice recognition: The sound a person's voice makes is determined by the shape of their vocal tract, including the mouth, nose, and larynx. The way a person speaks (tone, pace, movement variations, accent, etc.) is also unique. Both of these qualities are used by biometric privacy systems to identify a person's voice.
- Thermography recognition: Biometric facial thermography captures heat patterns that are caused by moving blood underneath the skin.
- Behavioral Characteristics: Analyzes how a person interacts with a computer system (such as monitoring keystrokes, mouse movements, print patterns, and device handling) to determine if they are who they claim to be.
An ideal security solution utilizes multiple biometrics as part of a multi-factor authentication system. The advantage of multi-factor authentication is that it is incredibly unlikely that an unauthorized user will be able to obtain all the necessary credentials needed to gain access. This is especially true when it comes to biometric data, which is incredibly difficult to forge due to its highly complex nature.
How Biometric Authentication Works
Assuming that you’ve put your finger on a fingerprint device, you already have some idea of how biometric authentication works. A scanner takes all your biometrics information, such as a fingerprint or a facial scan, and stores it in a secured database to be referenced later. The time you attempt to access the device, the scanner will take all the biometric information again and check it against the previous readings.
A biometric system is composed of three elements:
- Sensor: Whether it’s a fingerprint scanner or a facial recognition camera, the scanner is responsible for capturing biometric data and inputting it into the biometric security system.
- Database: Biometric information must be stored after it’s collected. The data is usually encrypted and stored in a secure server in a data center or cloud environment.
- Software: Biometric authentication software handles all of the analyzing and comparing whenever someone presents their biometric credentials. The software searches for the proper match and determines whether or not they should be granted access.
Can Biometrics Be Hacked?
While the benefits of biometric authentication are easy to see, many people are quick to ask whether or not their biometrics data is safe from hackers and data breaches. There isn’t much reason to worry because the software that powers this technology is already geared up for any and all types of threats, but still, there are some common-sense security measures that you can adopt to keep your biometric data safe.
Biometric data is typically stored in databases that are subject to the same security concerns as any other network system. That means strong authentication measures must be in place to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access. Encryption for data-at-rest/data-in-transit and multi-factor authentication protocols should all be considered fundamental security elements of any network storing biometric data.
Another good way of keeping your biometric data safe is by keeping your software and firmware up-to-date. Any time your device manufacturer or software manufacturer informs you about the latest security patch or software update, make sure you install it immediately. One of the unfortunate downsides of announcing patches and updates is that they alert hackers and other cybercriminals to existing software vulnerabilities. Don’t waste any time updating your systems and make sure any cloud providers you work with stay on top of their patches.
About Smart Eye Technology
Smart Eye Technology is a new game-changer in the security industry for its ability to leverage multiple types of biometric authentication when it comes to document and information security. And it takes it one step further by providing continuous authentication to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information even after they’ve accessed it. You can learn more about Smart Eye Technology by signing up for a LIVE demo or download it for a FREE trial your mobile device today to get started.