Biometrics are body measurements and calculations related to human characteristics that help to identify individuals. But now, due to their usefulness, they are used as a form of identification and access control in the IT industry ranging from security to other computer science-related matters. Our unique human biological characteristics and how we differ from each other help biometrics identify and authenticate quickly and safely.
Biometrics are categorised into two types; physiological measurements and behavioural measurements. The morphological and biological biometrics like fingerprints, DNA, blood, saliva, eye iris and retina fall under these categories, whereas things like voice recognition and keystroke dynamics fall under behavioural measurements.
- Physiological measurements: Physiological measurements include physical biometrics that uses traits at a genetic and molecular level like DNA samples of our body or blood and morphological biometrics that involves the structure of our human body like our fingerprints, retina of the eye etc.
- Behavioural measurements: Behavioural measurements include the study of the pattern we humans possess that are unique to each person, like the pattern of how we walk, talk, the tone of our voice, how we smile and even how we write.
Biometrics application in the IT industry
Due to the growing concerns about our security, personal and enterprise security systems, modern cyber security and the IT industry are using biometrics as an advanced layer to safeguard their identities and confidential matters. Biometrics technology helps to consider even the slightest details of our human information and helps in improved identity access security. Also, biometrics are very easy to use and unique to others, even twins, and another main thing is that they are tough to get stolen or impersonated, like our keys or passwords.
Some common examples of biometrics security are voice recognition, fingerprint scanners, heart rate sensors, eye iris recognition etc. Nowadays, we can find them even on our laptops, smart watches and smartphones.
Some of the advantages and disadvantages of biometrics are as follows:
Biometrics is integral to the modern technology landscape and is widespread in more ways than we users can fully understand. They have changed the course of technology, authentication and verification. While they have contributed a lot to improve our user experience and authentication, some corners about its safety and privacy for users and consumers still arise. There is also a fear of losing one’s identity if, let’s say, our biometric data gets compromised or somebody steals our fingerprint data. They can forever use our biometrics to perform criminal or other harmful activities while we get the blame.
Some of the advantages of biometrics are as follows:
- High security and assurance: We always forget our passwords, pin codes, and security codes and have to keep changing them, but sometimes we can’t recover our passwords. In this case, biometrics like retina recognition, fingerprint or face scanners will help us to tackle that problem. Our biometrics will remain the same life-long time and will stay with us, unlike our memory. So, using these biometrics as a security system will not only help it but will also help to protect our sensitive data and privacy because biometrics can’t be forgotten or stolen.
- User experience: From the user’s point of view, using biometrics is very fast and easy. Unlocking an account with just a face scanner or retina or fingerprint is very easy and quick than typing our long hard passwords.
- Spoof-proof: Biometrics are near spoof-proof. It is nearly impossible to replicate our face patterns, fingerprints, iris, etc. Experts say that there is just 1 in a 64 billion chance that our fingerprint will match up the same with someone else’s.
- Flexibility: These days, most smartphones have fingerprint scanners that allow user to access their mobile phones quickly. Also, these biometrics helps to keep our data protected from unwanted theft.
Similarly, some of the disadvantages that come up with biometrics are as follows:
- Physical disabilities: Biometrics only recognises the traits we entered into and won’t remember any other physical characteristics in case of even the slightest change in them. Let’s say, in case our finger gets burnt or damaged, or we had a retina transplant then in such cases, the authentication methods need to be changed to grant the authorised user access, which can be very inconvenient.
- High costs: Biometrics might be an outstanding technology, but it can be costly. The setup, integration and hardware are expensive and small businesses might not able to afford them.
- Tracking and data: Many users now use biometrics for user experience and security measures. But as its use increases, monitoring and other risks regarding privacy also increase. When biometrics are converted into data and stored, there is a risk of getting tracked by nefarious actors or data breached.
Are biometrics scanners safe?
Due to increased demand and popularity, biometric scanners are becoming very sophisticated. Different companies and smartphone makers are integrating biometric security into their devices and smartphones to enhance their security. Apple’s iPhone projects around 30,000 infrared dots into a user’s face to authenticate the rightful user. They say that their biometrics system is one in a million.
Other smartphone makers like LG use facial and voice recognition and fingerprint scanning to ensure greater security. Biometrics data is stored as a numeric value instead of raw data. If hacked into a biometric database, they would only be able to get encrypted data.
But, here is the main thing. Despite these advanced security measures, people are still cloning fingerprints quickly and getting into other personal devices. A german chaos computer club spoofed the iPhone touch id fingerprint reader within two days of its release. Due to this secure system, biometrics also poses dangers to the owner of the devices. Thieves will stalk and assault the owner to gain access to their devices; in some cases, the damage to the owner could be irreversible.
Hence, we could say that using biometric systems has both good and bad sides. But in terms of modern advancements in biometrics and accuracy, it is safe to say there are more advantages to using biometrics than not. At least it helps to secure our data more than traditional weak password systems.