Biometrics are rising as an advanced layer to many personal and enterprise security systems. With the unique identifiers of your biology and behaviors, this may seem foolproof. However, biometric identity has made many cautious about its use as standalone authentication.
Invision Security is focused on reducing security risks by linking proof-of-identity solution of two factor authentication: traditional passcodes have long been a point of weakness for security systems. Biometrics aims to answer this issue by linking proof-of-identity to our bodies and behavior patterns.
What are Biometrics?
A biometric identifier is one that is related to intrinsic human characteristics. They fall roughly into two categories: physical identifiers and behavioral identifiers. Physical identifiers are, for the most part, immutable and device independent:
For a quick biometrics’ definition: Biometrics are biological measurements — or physical characteristics — that can be used to identify individuals. For example, fingerprint mapping, facial recognition, and retina scans are all forms of biometric technology, but these are just the most recognized options.
Researchers claim the shape of an ear, the way someone sits and walks, unique body odors, the veins in one’s hands, and even facial contortions are other unique identifiers. These traits further define biometrics.
Types of Biometrics
While they can have other applications, biometrics have been often used in security, and you can mostly label biometrics into three groups:
- Biological biometrics
- Morphological biometrics
- Behavioral biometrics
Biological biometrics use traits at a genetic and molecular level. These may include features like DNA or your blood, which might be assessed through a sample of your body’s fluids.
- DNA: Today, DNA scans are used primarily in law enforcement to identify suspects — and in the movies. In practice, DNA sequencing has been too slow for widespread use. This is starting to change. DNA matching can be done in minutes but are very costly to perform but that will change in time.
Morphological biometrics involve the structure of your body. More physical traits like your eye, fingerprint, or the shape of your face can be mapped for use with security scanners.
- Fingerprints: Fingerprint scanners have become ubiquitous in recent years due to their widespread deployment on smartphones. Any device that can be touched, such as a phone screen, computer mouse or touchpad, or a door panel, has the potential to become an easy and convenient fingerprint scanner. Fingerprint scanning is the most common type of biometric authentication in the enterprise, used by 57 percent of companies.
- Photo and video: If a device is equipped with a camera, it can easily be used for authentication. Facial recognition and retinal scans are two common approaches.
- Physiological recognition: Facial recognition is the second most common type of authentication in place at 14 percent of companies. Other image-based authentication methods include hand geometry recognition, used by 5 percent of companies, iris or retinal scanning, palm vein recognition, and ear recognition.
- Voice: Voice-based digital assistants and telephone-based service portals are already using voice recognition to identify users and authenticate customers. Two percent of companies use voice recognition for authentication within the enterprise.
- Signature: Digital signature scanners are already in widespread use at retail checkouts and in banks and are a good choice for situations where users and customers are already expecting to have to sign their names.
- DNA: Today, DNA scans are used primarily in law enforcement to identify suspects — and in the movies. In practice, DNA sequencing has been too slow for widespread use. This is starting to change with new developments and in time, the costs will come down to make them more widely utilized.
Behavioral biometrics are based on patterns unique to each person. How you walk, speak, or even type on a keyboard can be an indication of your identity if these patterns are tracked.
Behavioral identifiers are a newer approach and are typically being used in conjunction with another method because of lower reliability. However, as technology improves, these behavioral identifiers may increase in prominence. Unlike physical identifiers, which are limited to a certain fixed set of human characteristics, the only limits to behavioral identifiers is the human imagination.
Today, this approach is often used to distinguish between a human and a robot. That can help a company filter out spam or detect attempts to brute-force a login and password. As technology improves, the systems are likely to get better at accurately identifying individuals, but less effective at distinguishing between humans and robots. Here are some common approaches:
- Typing patterns: Everybody has a different typing style. The speed at which they type, the length of time it takes to go from one letter to another, the degree of impact on the keyboard.
- Physical movements: The way that someone walks is unique to an individual and can be used to authenticate employees in a building, or as a secondary layer of authentication for particularly sensitive locations.
- Navigation patterns: Mouse movements and finger movements on trackpads or touch-sensitive screens are unique to individuals and relatively easy to detect with software, no additional hardware required.
- Engagement patterns: We all interact with technology in different ways. How we open and use apps, how low we allow our battery to get, the locations and times of day we’re most likely to use our devices, the way we navigate websites, how we tilt our phones when we hold them, or even how often we check our social media accounts are all potentially unique behavioral characteristics. These behavior patterns can be used to distinguish people from bots, until the bots get better at imitating humans. And they can also be used in combination with other authentication methods, or, if the technology improves enough, as standalone security measures.
Biometrics Security Explained
Biometric identification has a growing role in our everyday security. Physical characteristics are relatively fixed and individualized — even in the case of twins. Each person’s unique biometric identity can be used to replace or at least augment password systems for computers, phones, and restricted access rooms and buildings.
Once biometric data is obtained and mapped, it is then saved to be matched with future attempts at access. Most of the time, this data is encrypted and stored within the device or in a remote server.
Biometrics scanners are hardware used to capture the biometric for verification of identity. These scans match against the saved database to approve or deny access to the system.
In other words, biometric security means your body becomes the “key” to unlock your access.
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.
While these systems offer tons of promise for the future of access control and cybersecurity.
The Top 5 Uses of Biometrics Across the Globe
Uses of biometrics across the globe is on the rise. From border and immigration control to identifying criminals to time and attendance in workforce management, the practical uses of biometrics are growing rapidly.
Over the years, we have seen steady upward growth of biometric technology across the globe for myriad reasons but mostly due to the fact that personal identification and authentication is considered more and more important. From border and immigration control to identifying criminals to time and attendance in workforce management, the practical uses of biometrics are growing rapidly.
Many businesses consider biometrics to be applicable for government use only but they are quickly learning that the applications of biometrics extend far beyond the government use exclusively. In this post, we will discuss the top 5 uses of biometric technology across the globe — places where the technology is used to create more security and convenience for everyday citizens.
Making the journey through airport terminals more seamless for passengers is a goal shared by airports around the world. Biometric technology to verify passenger identities has been used in several large international airports for a number of years and the technology is quickly spreading to other locations across the globe.
In many airports, the top biometric modality choice for immigration control is iris recognition. In order to use iris recognition, travelers are first enrolled by having a photo of their iris and face captured by a camera. Then, their unique details are stored in an international database for fast, accurate identification at ports of entry and exit that use iris recognition for traveler identity verification. When travelling, instead of waiting in long queues to be processed, passengers simply walk into a booth and look into an iris camera. The camera then photographs the iris and a software program then matches the details with the information stored on the database.
Biometrics simplifies the airport experience for millions of passengers travelling every day. Use of the technology also ensures the highest level of security and safety.
Time and Attendance
Workforce management is another field where the use of biometrics is on the rise. Fraudulent employee time and attendance activities are a common phenomenon in organizations throughout the world. According to an American Payroll Association study, the average employee reportedly steals approximately 4 and a half hours per week, which is equivalent to 6 weeks’ vacation if extrapolated over a year. To solve this issue, companies are implementing biometric time clocks on their work sites.
A biometric time and attendance system is the automated method of recognizing an employee based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic. The most common biometric features used for employee identification are faces, fingerprints, finger veins, palm veins, irises, and voice patterns. When an employee attempts identification by their biological traits, a biometric hardware device compares the new scan to all available templates in order to find an exact match.
Even government organizations now rely on biometrics for ensuring timely attendance of staff and accurate payroll calculations.
Organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Interpol have been using biometrics in criminal investigations for years. Today, biometrics is widely used by law enforcement agencies across the world for the identification of criminals. In 2008, the Chinese Police adopted an ABIS solution to allow forensic fingerprint examiners the ability to cross check inmate identities for possible matches within the database.
Biometrics is also widely used for jail and prison management. Biometrics provides a modern solution by which the Jail Authority, Public Safety Departments, and Governments can safely and securely manage prisoner identities.
Access Control & Single Sign On (SSO)
Today, biometrics is widely used around the world for home access control, mobile phone access, vehicle access authentication and Single Sign On (SSO). The primary reason behind more and more organizations and personnel across the globe adopting biometric technology for access control and Single Sign On (SSO) is because traditional authentication tactics like passwords are insufficient for personal identification. Passwords only provide evidence or proof of knowledge whereas biometrics provides unique advantages because it relies on identifying someone by “who they are” compared to “what you know “or “what you have.”
Biometric access control systems from Invision Security deliver unobtrusive, personalized access control. Our biometrics identification scanners and door locks eliminate the need for access control cards and keypad codes, using sophisticated biometrics technology to enhance the security of your facilities and people. We also offer biometrics access control evaluation. Through the installation of our biometric server racks, fingerprint scanners and other solutions for iris and facial identification, we help you deploy advanced, secure and personalized biometric security solutions.
Our system offers and ideal combination of low cost and high security:
- Helps to securely restrict access to sensitive operations, perimeters and assets
- No keycards or passwords to manage
- Eliminates keycard and password sharing
- Identity authentication based on physical attributes
- Uses fingerprint, iris, facial and other identification technologies
- Integrates with existing access control systems
- Easy to manage and administer on an individual user basis
- A federally compliant access control solution
Banking – Transaction Authentication
Biometrics in banking has increased a great deal in the last few years and is being implemented by banks throughout the world. As global financial entities become more digitally-based, banks are implementing biometric technology to improve customer and employee identity management in an effort to combat fraud, increase transaction security, and enhance customer convenience. Customers are also fed-up with identity theft and the inconveniences associated with constantly having to prove their identities. As a result, more and more customers are looking for banks that have biometric authentication in place prompting banks to more closely research the technology for implementation.
As Biometric security systems are rolled out, we are seeing the pros outweigh the cons.
In practice, biometric security has already seen effective use across many industries. Advanced biometrics are used to protect sensitive documents and valuables. Citibank already uses voice recognition, and the British bank Halifax is testing devices that monitor heartbeat to verify customers’ identities. Ford is even considering putting biometric sensors in cars.
Biometrics are incorporated in e-Passports throughout the world. In the United States, e-passports have a chip that contains a digital photograph of one’s face, fingerprint, or iris, as well as technology that prevents the chip from being read — and the data skimmed — by unauthorized data readers.
Are Biometric Scanners Safe? – Improvements and Sophistication
Biometrics scanners are becoming increasingly sophisticated. You can even find biometrics on phone security systems. For example, the facial recognition technology on Apple’s iPhone X projects 30,000 infrared dots onto a user’s face to authenticate the user by pattern matching. The chance of mistaken identity with the iPhone X biometrics is one in a million, according to Apple.
Smartphones combines facial and voice recognition with fingerprint scanning and keeps the data on the phone for greater security. Some manufacturers, links a heart-rate sensor to its fingerprint scanners for two-step authentication. This helps ensure that cloned fingerprints can’t be used to access the systems.
Biometrics – Identity & Privacy Concerns
Biometric authentication is convenient, but privacy advocates fear that biometric security erodes personal privacy. The concern is that personal data could be collected easily and without consent.
Facial recognition is a part of everyday life in Chinese cities, where it’s used for routine purchases, and London is famously dotted with CCTV cameras. Now, New York, Chicago, and Moscow are linking CCTV cameras in their cities to facial recognition databases to help local police fight crime. Ramping up the technology, Carnegie Mellon University is developing a camera that can scan the irises of people in crowds from a distance of 10 meters.
In 2018, facial recognition was introduced in Dubai airport, where travelers are photographed by 80 cameras as they pass through a tunnel in a virtual aquarium. Facial recognition cameras are also at work in other airports throughout the world, including those in Helsinki, Amsterdam, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Tampa. All that data is stored. Storing biometric data on a device – like the iPhone’s TouchID or Face ID – is considered safer than storing it with a service provider, even when the data is encrypted.
Ways to Protect Biometric Identity
With the risks to privacy and safety, additional protections must be used in biometric systems. Unauthorized access becomes more difficult when systems require multiple means of authentication and matching encoded samples to users within encrypted domains. Some security systems also include additional features, such as age, gender, and height, in biometric data to thwart hackers. Biometrics make a good replacement for usernames as part of a two-factor authentication strategy.
Two-factors that must be incorporated:
- Something you are (biometrics)
- Something you have (like a hardware token) or something you know (like a password)
Two-factor authentication makes a powerful combination, especially as IoT devices proliferate. By layering the protection, secured internet devices become less vulnerable to data breaches. In addition, using a password manager to store any traditional passwords can give you an additional safeguard.
Key Point – Biometrics offers higher security, convenience, accountability, and accurate audit trails
Takeaways on Biometrics
In summary, biometrics remains a growing way to verify identity for access control systems. The combined protection of your physical or behavioral signatures with other authentications gives some of the strongest known security. At the moment, it is at a minimum better than using a character-based password as a standalone verification.
Biometric technology offers very compelling solutions for security. Biometrics offer low cost solutions with robust security. The systems are convenient and hard to duplicate. Plus, these technology systems will continue to develop for a very long time into the future.
We believe that as time moves forward, we will see implementation of biometric technology continue to grow and be used in even more areas that touch our lives.
Each integration is different, based on this information, we recommend you hire an expert to design your security system and suggest the selection of biometric security solutions that will best support your business’ need. Invision security can design your company’s system from our onsite visit, accessing your needs and present you a design in our proposal. You can rest assure that we are designing a security system for you that is safe and reliable.
There are many uses that Biometric Solutions can help commercial businesses. The value in savings with the solutions alone pay for itself. If you are interested in seeing how Biometric technology can improve your access control system, contact us at Invision Security today for a free consultation. We can provide you the very best protection for your property.