In the current era of widespread digital technology, one key feature of any business is the ability to verify the identity of attempted digital users. In the past, passwords and knowledge-based questions were used to verify the identity of users attempting to access secure systems, but these methods can easily be compromised leaving sensitive data unsecured.
Instead, digital platforms across every industry have embraced remote identity verification as a necessary feature in today’s increasingly digital world. From large-scale e-commerce platforms to healthcare providers, financial institutions, and even government websites, multi-factor remote identity verification is necessary for securing digital platforms.
The field of remote identity verification is rapidly evolving with the addition of new highly advanced biometric technologies. Biometric authentication methods have the potential to completely transform the way we verify our identities online, and may be able to herald a new era of digital security.
In this article, we will take a look at the types of biometric authentication methods, exploring how they work and why they provide increased security for digital platforms. We will also investigate a recent demo of the latest biometric technologies, reviewing the latest cutting-edge innovations in the biometric remote identity verification field.
Seven Types of Biometric Authentication
Biometric authentication involves using scanners, sensors, or other analytical devices to capture, record, and analyze unique biological and physiological information about individuals. These distinct characteristics are used to confirm each individual’s identity.
The scale of biometric authentication ranges from the personal (using your fingerprint to unlock your smartphone, for example) to the public (some shopping malls use biometric scanners to track individuals within a huge crowd).
There are seven common types of biometric authentication:
1. Facial Recognition
Facial recognition is already a widely popular technique for biometric authentication. In this method, sensors can detect a human face in person, in video content, or an image.
Each individual face is converted into a unique numerical code and stored in a vast database of facial information. The method can be applied in a high range of situations, including video conferences. It does not require users to memorize lengthy passwords and can be easily installed.
2. Fingerprint Scanning
Perhaps the most familiar method of collecting biometric information is fingerprint scanning. A fingerprint scanner is needed to acquire, analyze, and validate individual data, but this technology is relatively inexpensive, making fingerprint scanning a popular method for biometric authentication.
One method of collecting fingerprints has users guide their fingers through a thermal sensor that records their unique fingerprints and converts them into chains of digital code. Another method involves users applying their fingertips to a scanner equipped with an optical sensor or capacitive sensor. Once the sensor captures the unique fingerprint pattern it is then converted into digital code and stored in a database where analysts can compare it to future imprints.
3. Voice Recognition
Voice recognition is frequently used in situations that take place over the phone, such as customer service call centers. By processing the voices of customers, call centers can speed up the process, creating a more efficient and secure workflow. Voice recognition is often applied for teleconferencing, credit card verification over the phone, digital security systems, and forensic analyses.
This method can be combined with other biometric authentication techniques to help prevent issues in case the user is calling from a noisy setting, or has a respiratory ailment that affects the quality of their voice.
4. Iris Recognition
Iris recognition relies on visual sensors to locate an individual’s pupil, iris, and eyelids. The sensor converts the iris into a representative numerical code, then compares that code of numbers to its vast storehouse of data, seeking a match among previously collected information. In this library of numerical codes, each individual iris will match with its own numerical code every time, creating a secure verification network.
5. Hand Geometry
With hand geometry recognition, sensors identify users from the specific measurements and dimensions of their hands. Users place their hands on a reader that measures the length, width, angle, and deviation of their palms and fingers. These measurements are then converted into digital code and compared to measurements stored in identity verification databases.
6. Palm or Finger Vein Pattern
Palm or finger vein pattern verification has sensors that emit infrared rays to capture images of the veins on users’ palms, fingertips, or both. The sensors can then analyze the image features on display, noting specific characteristics of the vein patterns. Vein patterns are nearly impossible to fake since they are located beneath the surface of the skin.
7. Signature Recognition
Signature recognition and handwriting analyses have been used for hundreds of years; this low-tech form of biometric authentication requires no special technology. But it is also one of the least secure forms of biometric authentication since a handwriting specialist can easily mimic and replicate the signature of another individual. Digital signatures, however, provide a more secure alternative.
Digital signatures reduce the paper trail and can be analyzed by advanced AI-enabled technology, making it more secure and harder to impersonate than traditional handwritten signatures. This method is best used in combination with a more advanced method of biometric authentication.
Other Forms of Biometric Analyses
In addition to the seven methods listed above, contemporary biometric authentication can utilize and analyze body odor, thermographic information, DNA matching, ear acoustics, skin reflection, and more. As technology continues to evolve, new and subtler characteristics will continue to open up possibilities for biometric identity verification.
How Biometric Authentication Protects Digital Platforms
By utilizing specific physiological characteristics to verify users’ identities, biometric authentication offers a sophisticated, in-depth approach to ensuring that users are who they say they are.
Characteristics such as finger vein patterns are nearly impossible to fake, so these more advanced authentication methods can cut back on common identity theft and fraud. Let’s take a look at a few of the specific benefits of adopting biometric authentication methods.
Reduce Fraud Risks
With both physiological and behavioral biometrics, there is a complex interconnected web of identifying factors that validate and verify the identity of each person. With so many interwoven specifics, it is more difficult for bad actors to successfully impersonate an individual user.
This can mean huge improvements across industries. For the financial sector, cybercrime and identity theft have been on the rise in recent years. In the United Kingdom, for instance, 1 in 10 people has been the victim of a financial-related cyberattack. With advanced biometric authentication techniques, financial institutions and e-commerce platforms can shore up their digital and in-person security systems, thus greatly reducing the risk of fraud.
Protect Customer Data
Once a customer’s biometric patterns have been collected, they are encrypted and stored in vast databases. So even if a bad actor was able to bypass layers of strong cybersecurity to access the database storehouses, they would not be able to decipher the encrypted data stored there.
This means that identity information is doubly secured. When those strings of code protect customer data, the verification pairs with the encryption to create a highly protected digital atmosphere for sensitive information, such as customers’ financial details, home addresses, and more.
Improve Customer Experience
Biometrics are transforming customer experiences with digital brands. By providing a simple, convenient way for customers to log in securely and remotely, digital brands that use biometric authentication methods garner deeper customer trust.
This is especially key for services based entirely on trust, such as dating apps. Dating apps that utilize biometric authentication gain a competitive edge; they reassure users that the people they are interacting with are who they say they are.
The Latest in Biometric Authentication Developments
The rise of biometric authentication stemmed from an increase in fraud and cybercrime during the widespread digital transformations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Now public agencies are relying on biometric authentication techniques to verify identities in the public sector, including benefits claims systems. Airports rely on facial recognition, fingerprints, and iris recognition scans to verify individual identities at border crossings, speeding up the immigration process.
In South Africa the government is releasing the National Identity System, which uses a universal identifier that is linked to biometric characteristics, such as user’s fingerprints, to give citizens remote access to government services. India has introduced a similar program, the Aadhaar program, to provide citizens secure remote access to government benefits.
While biometric identification methods increase security and efficiency, they also raise serious privacy concerns among democratic protection agencies and analysts. As more public institutions adopt biometric authentication methods, democratic watchdogs are raising alarms over issues related to consent about personal data collection. To this end, biometric authentication can be paired with alternative verification methods and technologies in an attempt to preserve individuals’ right to protect their own biometric information.
As biometric data collection techniques continue to evolve, we can expect to see wider and more common adoption of these methods. Financial institutions, healthcare providers, government agencies, immigration controls, and commercial businesses have all begun to adopt biometric authentication techniques to provide more efficient, secure, and simple services for their customers and users.
While most of us have largely grown accustomed to using biometric authentication methods, some will become even more commonplace as the technology continues to transform the cybersecurity industry. Soon sights such as retinal and iris scanning, body odor authentication, and thermal imaging will be as normal as signing a contract by hand.
With the growth of the industry, however, we may need to consider the privacy rights of citizens–a complicated issue when it comes to widespread data collection. The ethical concerns will have to evolve as rapidly as the technology has been, as biometric authentication has already begun to transform remote identity verification throughout all sectors.
Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.