Biometric Authentication: Its Potentials for Businesses

Biometric technology has been on the rise over the last few years, presenting promising potentials in making the authentication process more secure and convenient. Unlike personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords, biometrics involves the use of something you will always have, you can’t share, and you can’t forget. This makes this technology all the more relevant, especially in cybersecurity. 

The increased presence and use of biometrics are not new, making it a hot topic across businesses and industries. To help us understand how this technology works, let’s have a peek at how it fares against other authentication methods and its potential use cases.

What is biometric authentication? 

Biometric authentication is the use of biological and behavioral attributes instead of passwords or PINs to prove that people are who they say they are. It uses unique personal traits to verify a person’s identity, allowing them access to a digital asset. This is usually done through comparison, where you attempt to match, say, a fingerprint or face against the individual’s record rather than having the system determine their identity by searching among a range of candidates.

To be useful for authentication, a biometric feature must be unique, consistent, and measurable. It must also be capable of being captured (in the form of either an image or recording) and extracted in a way that its uniqueness can be preserved.

Biometric traits that can be used for authentication include morphological attributes such as the face, fingerprint, and iris. Behavioral features such as gestures, typing patterns, and voice can also be utilized.

How does biometric authentication differ from other verification methods?

Biometric authentication differs from other verification methods such as passwords, PINs, and cryptographic keys in a technical aspect.

Unlike passwords and PINs that tend to be fixed for a certain period, captured biometric data vary slightly from time to time. Thus, there will never be an exact match between the “probe” data and the “reference” data, making the comparison process fuzzy. For instance, when you use your finger to unlock your mobile device, the angle and position of your finger may differ each time. While this is the case, the authentication will still work. 

In terms of security, biometric authentication does not depend on the secrecy of the biometric trait. Instead, it’s about making it difficult for someone to impersonate a living person’s traits and presenting them to break into a device.

What are the benefits of biometric authentication? 

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Biometric authentication can potentially provide a better user experience and a higher level of trust than other credential-based methods. In particular, it can improve individual accountability, as personal traits cannot be shared, unlike passwords.

However, no biometric authentication method can provide a 100% success rate. For instance, with face recognition, if the matching threshold is low, a person is less likely to be locked out of their phone, but that could also enable someone else to unlock and access the device. 

The trade-off between security and user experience is true with any authentication technology. So, business owners must determine if the pros and cons of biometric authentication are in line with their organizations’ expectations and priorities.

What are the potential use cases of biometric authentication?

Typically, financial institutions use biometrics, but the technology can be employed in a variety of other ways across industries – from transportation and healthcare to business process outsourcing and education. Current enterprise use cases include:

  • Network login
  • Mobile device login
  • Remote network and cloud access
  • Universal access control
  • Mobile banking
  • Caller ID and fraud detection for contact centers
  • Self-service car rentals
  • Online exams 

Leverage the potentials of biometrics

Biometric authentication presents promising potentials for security, accountability, and convenience. While there are downsides to it, its benefits far outweigh its limitations. Given how technology quickly evolves, its current flaws may soon be turned into advantages. 

Businesses can leverage the capabilities of biometrics to take their regulatory compliance methods to the next level. Using this technology, they can secure their operations while enabling seamless, faster transactions.