Understanding Biometric Authentication System: The Pros and Cons

featured picture BAS pros and cons

Biometric Authentication System has more or less been everywhere for a while now. From Government campaigns to private companies to log into a device or a service to using it to unlock our very own smartphones, we have heard about it everywhere and used it as well.

For those of us who have been using it without understanding it, here is what it is all about –

What is a Biometric Authentication System?

Biometric Authentication System is a setup for providing security that uses biological features of an individual to confirm his or her identity. Such systems compare the biometrics of individuals to the ones that are stored in a database and compare the two to confirm the authentication.

Biometric Authentication System is being increasingly used to grant access to the right identity to physical places such as buildings and rooms or to digital resources such as computing devices and smartphones. Increasingly, the government is also using such authentication systems in different campaigns and security programs.

Different Biometric Authentication Techniques

  1. Fingerprint Scanners

    There are three different kinds of fingerprint scanners that are categorised according to their working, these are:

    • Optical Scanner
    • Capacitive Scanner
    • Ultrasonic Scanner

    Fingerprint scanners technologies are widely used and is one of the most common form of biometric detection currently used in the market. However, it is slowly being obsoleted as fingerprint identification can be worn and thus is not a reliable data source.

  2. Eye Scanners

    Eye scanners are believed to be one of the most reliable methods of biometric authentication for the simple reason that both the retina and the iris of an individual remain unchanged during their lifetime and thus provide fool-proof security. The two types are:

    • Retinal Scanners
    • Iris Scanners

    Iris and retinal scanners are fairly new technologies and often require close-up scanning of the individual’s eyes. Its current costs of implementation are higher than other technologies at the moment.

  3. Speech Recognition Scanners

    Speech recognition will identify the speaker and not the text that is being said. It can be:

    • Text-dependent
    • Text-independent

    Speech Recognition technologies are fairly new technologies and currently does not have a high accuracy performance.

  4. Facial recognition systems

    There are different methods of facial recognition systems. One is to figure out different features of the face from an image such as eyes, nose, and lips and compare them to other images. The other method used is to analyse the texture of the skin and other natural lines formed due to wrinkles or beauty marks and then compare them to other images. Facial recognition technologies are proven and mature, and is one of the most widely used biometrics technologies in the market.

  5. Hand and finger geometry

    This kind of authentication system is not very popular since it is not unique as its other counterparts such as facial scanners and eye scanners. The method uses data such as the thickness of palm, width, and length of fingers, distance in knuckles, etc.

  6. Vein geometry

    A vein geometry scanner is among the most authentic and unique scans since the vein geometry of two individuals is never the same, not even the biological twins. These are also a safe method since they cannot be easily copied. Infrared light is used to light up the veins of a hand and they are copied. However such technologies are fairly expensive to deploy in comparison to other technologies.

Pros and Cons of Biometric Authentication System

Biometric Authentication System is often compared to its outmoded counterpart, the password or the use of PIN code since both of them are about providing security to a device, application or a place. The only way to identify the pros and cons of this system is by comparing it to using the password method of security.

Pros

  • It is easy to use

    The Biometric Authentication System is much easier to use and is faster as well. Imagine scanning a fingerprint or iris or using a Face ID to unlock your smartphone than typing in a long password before you get access to get to use your phone. Besides passwords can be easily forgotten and confused with as well.

  • Hacking does not come easy

    To hack a Biometric authentication system, a hacker has to be physically near the user to be able to make use of the information required for login. This makes it much easier to catch the suspected hacker than in other cases where they can hack a device or any data system while sitting in a completely different continent.

Cons

  • It is difficult to alter the details remotely

    Unlike in a password security system where the user can remotely change the details (read the password) to regain the control over a lost device, email account or an application, the biometric security system does not allow the user to change or revoke the details such as iris, voice print or fingerprint remotely.

    In the password security system, the user can not just change the password but also add two-factor authentication to add security to the account while with biometrics, the user has to be physically present near the device to make any kind of alterations.

  • The biometric authentication system is not fool-proof

    The Biometric authentication system is not a fool-proof system. There are master fingerprints that are capable of tracking multiple phones or scanners. As per a study, about 65% of devices can be easily tricked using master fingerprints. Even though this percentage might get down in real-life situations but the numbers are still alarming.

  • Biometrics cannot be changed like passwords

    In instances where the data is compromised, it is quite easy for a user to change the password and start afresh but the same is impossible in case of biometrics since it is virtually impossible to alter one’s fingerprint, iris or retina. If a hacker gets on to these details, the only option left to the user is to switch to the password security system.

 

Final Word

Biometric Authentication Technology has become extremely popular among the users not just because it is easy to use and convenient but also because it is equally fancy to use. There are no second thoughts about the fact that it is the technology our today needs but it is equally important to be cautious and updated while using it.

From simple precautions such as using a finger other than a thumb or an index finger to using a fingerprint-resistant cover, there is a lot that you can do to stay safe with the Biometric Authentication System. So, always choose the right devices and service providers for your business when you deploy biometric systems. Or you may contact us for more information too!