In the last few years, we are increasingly using biometric security more frequently than ever before particularly with the rise in security breaches on both an industry and consumer level. An increasing number of firms, organizations and even governments are using fingerprint sensors or facial recognition systems for identification.
Currently, we have not given up the conventional security methods like PINs, passwords and pattern locks. While most people use PINs as the staple of their main security login, biometric security is regarded as a much safer alternative. As we become more accustomed to unlocking our smartphones and computers with our fingerprints or face, will biometrics be the security standard of the future?
What is the Biometric Security?
Biometric security, or biometric authentication, is the use of your unique biological information to verify your identity. It is impossible for other people to guess your biometric information, which means that biometric systems can be extremely difficult to crack. This makes biometric security a preferential choice among other single-factor security methods or a popular complement to multi-factor identification systems. From fingerprints to retina scanning, biometrics is becoming one of the important methods of fighting to protecting our privacy and sensitive data e.g. personal accounts and confidential information.
However, each method has its limitation, let’s have a look at some existing security practices and their advantages and disadvantages.
It is simple and convenient to use passwords. You can design a long and complex passwords with capital letters, numbers and even symbols to ensure the reliability of the password. If you think that the passwords have been leaked to someone else or you believe the password is not strong enough or you just forget them, you can change it at any time.
Unfortunately, It is a mass problem to memorise a group of passwords for different accounts, especially if you use unique password for each account (which we highly recommend doing).
Most people prefer using a certain combination for passwords that is easy to remember — the birthday of their children, sibling or partner, phone number, pet name etc. These kind of passwords are easy to memorise but in most cases make it easy to guess. If someone knows your enough of your personal information, they can easily invade your accounts.
In addition, security is compromised because a majority of people use the same password or similar ones for all accounts, this is unsafe because once someone acquires one of your account passwords, they are likely to be able to obtain access to all your accounts.
PIN (or Personal Identification Number) consists of digits only and create a sequence with a keypad so you can remember it more easily.
Compared to the passwords, a PIN can be easier to crack because it only contains numbers. For example, if your PIN is six-digits long, it only takes a hacker hours to crack it with a sophisticated programme because he would only need to try approximately 1 million combinations. On the other hand, if you have a six-digits password that consists of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols, the hacker would need to try around 690 billion combinations.
Face, fingerprint, iris or voice is a unique biometric feature that can be extremely hard to steal, imitate.or counterfeit due to the fact that each person has a unique frequency of sound, pronunciation style, fingerprint and a unique vascular distribution of the iris. These biometric features are extremely difficult to be duplicated unlike a username and password combination. People also cannot forget, lose or lend their biometric signature, which means only you can have access to your accounts that use biometrics for its security..
Biometrics can be more expensive to implement than conventional methods. There is a double edged sword when it comes to biometrics and that is you cannot change who you are. For example, under conventional methods, you can easily change the passwords and account number of a stolen credit card. However, if your fingerprints are stolen, you cannot get a new one to protect your accounts. Furthermore, if your fingerprints or other features become someone else’s property, they could own all the privileges you enjoy.
Here are some of the compromises for different types of biometrics separately:
Fingerprints. Problems might come from the fingers injuries as cuts or burns.
Voice. Noises and environmental factors, illnesses as cough and cold or differences in temperature and air pressure can lead to authentication failure. As has been seen with voice recognition this process has taken a long time to develop well.
Face. Although facial recognition is becoming more advanced, the accuracy of face recognition can be affected by the facial expression, glasses, makeup and lighting. People’s face shape can also change throughout your life and affected as such by weight, age, etc.
Iris. Although this requires a very high level of cost, effort and technology, supposedly it has been claimed that an iris scanner can be tricked using sophisticated contact lenses.
Which Types of Security Should be Chosen?
It is clear that no one method can be perfect.. So far, we have learned that conventional security methods can be easy to operate but less secure with the advancement of technology, while biometrics can improve this situation because the only key to your accounts and confidential information is your unique biologic features that cannot be stolen by others.
Now with mass production of technologies, bring lower costs, we have increasingly seen biometrics used in daily life like the fingerprint lock or facial recognition( face ID) in our smartphones. It makes sense that we can combine these security methods, to create several layers of security, like a fingerprint scan backed up with a strong password or PIN code.