Biometrics for Increased Security: Is it Safe? Is it Secure?
The security industry is forever trying to come up with new and better ways to thwart the cyber criminals. Finding something to replace the password as a line of defense has been a priority for years. It is viewed as a vulnerability, mostly because of the human element: people use weak passwords, and this leads to data breaches. To prevent such breaches, biometric security systems are becoming a key element to multifactor authentication and used for a wide variety of purposes, particularly consent and validation of individuals.
What are biometrics?
Biometrics use a person’s unique physical characteristics to grant access to a protected system or sensitive data. Instead of a password that could be hacked or stolen, biometric security uses facial recognition, iris scans, fingerprint scans, or other methods to authenticate a person’s identity. Since no two fingerprints, irises, or faces are exactly alike, biometric security can prevent anyone but the authorized user from accessing private information.
Are biometrics safe (A COVID-19 question)?
The quick answer is yes. While the potential spread of COVID-19 has people concerned about touching keypads, card readers and other devices used for identity authentication, contactless systems like iris scans and facial recognition offer accurate solutions to identify people in person and online without contributing to the spread of the coronavirus.
Are biometrics secure?
While there are no completely foolproof security measures as of yet, biometrics are certainly far more secure than usernames and passwords. Since no two fingerprints, irises, or faces are exactly alike, biometric security can prevent anyone but the authorized user from accessing private information. Biometrics are also an important component of multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA combines “something you know”, like a username or password, with “something you have”, such as a smartphone, key card, or token, as a second factor. Today cybersecurity technologists have added a third factor: “something you are.” This is where biometrics come in, when the “something you are” might be facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, retinal scanning, and other forms of bio-identification. The additional factors based on “something you have” or “something you are” are both much stronger than “something you know,” such as a username or password. Not only can usernames and passwords be easily stolen, guessed, or phished for, but authentication based on biometrics is very hard to fake or duplicate.
Biometrics are largely used because of two major benefits:
- Convenience of use: Biometrics are always with you and cannot be lost or forgotten.
- Difficult to steal or impersonate: Biometrics can’t be stolen like a password or key can.
Biometrics are safe and secure. The combined protection of your physical signatures – biometrics – with other authentications gives some of the strongest known security, and contactless methods will not contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. If you’re looking for more information on biometrics and how to incorporate it into your security systems, have a look at the TImeWellScheduled solution here.