What is Biometric Authentication: Why is it Important for Your Business?

Today, business owners find that security is a top concern. Protecting company information, customer data, confidential information, and trade secrets continues to be difficult, particularly as hackers work on coming up with new ways to defeat even the most cutting-edge security measures. Because other security measures have proven susceptible to breaches, many companies have implemented the use of biometrics authentication technologies, using biometrics for authentication instead of older techniques like password or knowledge-based authentication.

 

What is biometric authentication? Why does your business need a biometric identification system instead of relying on passwords? Many companies continue to be reluctant to move forward from single-factor, traditional methods of authentication. They often feel that employees won’t accept new biometrics security or that it will be too complex for the business environment. But a closer look at these technologies find that these concerns are generally unfounded and implementing biometric authentication offers the chance to improve performance while increasing security. To help you understand why biometric authentication is so critical for your business, here’s the answer to some of your biggest questions.

Defining Biometric Authentication

What is biometric authentication? It’s a type of security process that verifies the identity of a user via unique biological traits, such as voices, fingerprints, facial characteristics, retinas, and irises. Systems store the biometric data in order to quickly verify the user’s identity when a user is accessing an account or a physical area. Since this data is so unique to each individual, biometric authentication generally proves more secure than traditional methods of authentication.

 

While biometric authentication is commonly use to access accounts or to access physical environments, controlling gates and doors, they’re more commonly being built into consumer devices as well, such as Smartphones and computers. Private corporates and governments continue to use biometric authentication technologies in secure areas or even at ports of entry when going across national borders.

 

Some of the most common types of biometric authentication use today include:

  • Facial Recognition – This technology relies on matching multiple measurements and features from an approved face to the face of a user.

  • Fingerprint Scanner – Scanners record the unique patterns of ridges and swirls that make up fingerprints.
  • Eye scanners – Both retina and iris scanners are available. Iris scanners look for unique patterns in the iris (the colored ring) around the eye’s pupil. Retina scanners project light on the eye that makes the unique retinal blood vessel patterns visible, which are ready by a scanner.
  • Voice Recognition – Measures vocal characteristics of an individual, combining multiple data points to create a voiceprint that’s matched to a database.

 

Biometric authentication continues to rise in popularity because it uses individual biological traits that are hard to fake, which boosts security. It’s also convenient, since users can’t easily lose or forget biometrics. Today, biometric identity verification is nearly instantaneous and increasingly accurate, all while offering greater protection for companies that need to protect access, data, or other areas of their business.

Traditional Methods of Authentication

Password authentication and knowledge-based authentication are just a couple of the traditional methods of authentication that have been used through the years. Unfortunately, many of these methods come with challenges and security risks companies must consider.

Document/Token Authentication

Document or token authentication requires a tangible device like a document, key card, or other token along with account credentials to receive access. Of course, document/token authentication comes with usability challenges when using physical tokens. Today, software tokens have become a more popular option and are often incorporated into devices like smartphones or stored on laptops or desktop computers.

Password Authentication

Password authentication is still widely used today; it’s likely the most common form of authentication for security email, computers, and online transactions. When you log into your email, your computer, or even another type of user account online, it’s likely you’re asked for a username and password.

 

The problem with passwords is that they’re inherently insecure due to phishing scams, social engineering, and the dark web. Many people use passwords that are easy to guess. Passwords often get forgotten as well, or users share them across various online accounts, increasing the risk that accounts get taken over by cybercriminals.

SMS Authentication

SMS (text message) authentication is usually use as an out-of-band authentication process that requires multiple signals from two different channels or networks before providing access. With SMS authentication, a one-time password or security code is sent via text to a user.

 

Using SMS authentication along with passwords does offer additional security compared to using password authentication on its own. However, it still has some security vulnerabilities. It’s susceptible to snooping attacks and man-in-the-middle attacks. This form of authentication also assumes that an individual has their phone handy, which may not always be the case.

Knowledge-Based Authentication

Knowledge-based authentication uses a shared secret to authenticate a user. Usually the information is provided when creating an account and then later presented on demand when asked for the response. One of the most common questions: What is your mother’s maiden name? Of course, today those questions include far many options, like: What is your pet’s name? What is the name of the elementary school you attended? What is the name of your first bets friend?

 

With social media and the dark web, unfortunately, answers to ‘secret’ questions are often discovered without a lot of effort by fraudsters. They can then use that information to impersonate a person with ease.

Biometric Authentication Systems are on the Rise

As biometric technology continues to progress, biometric authentication systems are now on the rise. New, innovative, and more solutions are available to companies, making these systems more appealing for many businesses.

Some of the benefits biometric authentication systems offer, which stand out to companies, include:

  • Benefit #1 – Operational Efficiency – Any IT or customer service department finds that resetting forgotten passwords is a heavy-duty operation that takes time and resources. However, it’s highly unlikely that individuals will lose or forget their biometrics. Using biometric authentication helps reduce resource-consuming operational tasks, resulting in significant savings in both time and money.
  • Benefit #2 – Frictionless User Experience – One of the key benefits of using biometric authentication systems is the fast, convenient, easy user experience. Since biometric authentication involves something people are instead requiring users to remember something they have or something they know, it’s much simpler. Whether the system requires scanning a face or a fingerprint, the process is designed to be easy and fast, resulting in an identification process that’s user-friendly.
  • Benefit #3 – Multiple Verticals Supported – With today’s cutting-edge biometric authentication systems, users can be identified security and with high accuracy. This supports verticals that have even the most sensitive data, such as government or finance use.
  • Benefit #4 – Easy Accessibility – Most biometric authentication methods prove straightforward to use, making them easy for users to learn and become adapted to. Traditional methods of authentication may limit access for some users. For example, passwords make it difficult for those with visual impairments or those who can’t read. With biometric authentication, it’s possible to cater to wider user groups, offering improved inclusion and accessibility.
  • Benefit #5 – Enhanced Security – Perhaps one of the most important benefits of biometric authentication is the enhanced security if offers businesses. It relies on physical traits that improve accuracy and prove tough to forge, reducing the risk of breach to improve security. When using traditional authentication methods like passwords, you have a higher risk of having passwords copied, misplaced, or hacked, leading to security issues and significant costs to the company.  

These are just a few of the benefits that have business turning towards biometric authentication instead of other traditional methods. And the technologies behind this type of authentication are only increasing, improving security and addressing former weak spots.

 

For example, within facial recognition technology, a new method of liveness detection called passive liveness detection offers great security benefits. Passive liveness detection ensures a face is presented to facial recognition systems, yet it gives no indication that users are being tested. It’s easy, frictionless, and involves no required movements to verify that a real face is being presented to the system. This makes it tougher for cybercriminals to circumvent the technology, boosting security.

Boost Security with Biometric Authentication

According to Juniper Research, biometrics will be used for over 18 billion transactions by 2021, a number that’s exploding largely due to the increased security of biometric authentication technologies. With biometric authentication, consumers have more trust that their information is secure and companies can better protect their ecosystems from cybercriminals, malware, and bots. Establishing trust and improve user experience, all while focusing on optimal security, is essential for companies today, and the latest biometric authentication technologies provide those benefits.

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