April 02, 2024

Anonybit Team

8 Biometric Authentication Methods, Pros & Cons And How To Choose

Blog illustration of common Biometric Authentication Methods

Are you tired of fumbling with passwords, struggling to remember complex codes, or worrying about unauthorized access to your digital life? This blog will help you unravel the mysteries of different types and methods of biometric authentication, as well as their pros and cons, and ultimately guide you to the best-fit solution for your unique needs.

Anonybit’s identity management platform serves as a strategic ally in your quest to navigate the diverse landscape of Biometric Authentication Techniques. Dive in to unleash the true potential of biometric protection and make informed decisions that align with your personal security objectives.

What Is Biometric Authentication?

man doing face unlock - Biometric Authentication Methods

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition, biometrics are automated identification methods that use a person’s behavioral or physiological characteristics to verify their identity. These methods are designed to ensure a person’s identity and provide high security for their data and accounts. With biometric authentication, users can access their devices, accounts, and other systems using their unique physical or behavioral characteristics. Biometric authentication has seen increased adoption in recent years due to its effectiveness in preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information and data.

Biometric security systems rely on two processes:

Identification

Comparing the input factor against those in the database to ensure the person is not already enrolled under another identity or to confirm the presence of a user in the system. 

Authentication

Biometric authentication confirms that the user is who they say they are by seamlessly matching their input to a specific user profile.

Biometrics are often combined with other identity and access management (IAM) solutions, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) and sometimes role-based access control (RBAC).

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How Does Biometric Authentication Work?

how does it work - Biometric Authentication Methods

The first step of biometric authentication is a straightforward process of mapping out the data of the selected biometric trait. Eligible biometric traits involve several parts of the human body, such as the face, iris, voice, fingerprint, and many other unique attributes. 

Matching the Sample

The biometric system captures the sample and converts it into a vector or template, which is then stored in a database. The system compares the stored biometric templates with the new sample when prompted. If it finds a match, the user is successfully authenticated. 

Who Are You vs. What Can You Do

Biometrics are most commonly used for identification and authentication purposes. During biometric identification, the technology confirms whether the person is already in the system  (for example, when checking for duplicates or blocked identities before allowing a person to open an account). In authentication mode, biometrics confirm whether the user has permission to perform a specific operation (such as logging into an account).

From Sci-Fi to Everyday Security

Although several decades ago, biometrics seemed more like science fiction than reality, they are now widely accepted and implemented. According to a Visa survey, 70% of consumers believe biometrics are easier, and 46% think they are more secure than a password or PIN code. This high level of security is one of the key reasons the preference for biometric authentication is growing.

Enhanced Security and Frictionless User Experience

At Anonybit, our decentralized biometrics system design helps companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud. With a decentralized biometrics solution, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, and help desk authentication. We aim to protect companies from data breaches, account takeovers, and synthetic identity fraud.

To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 biometric authentication and 1:N biometric matching to prevent duplicates, synthetics and blocklisted identities 

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, enable strong authentication to eliminate account takeovers, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit.

Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

6 Biometric Authentication Methods With Their Pros & Cons

person on phone - Biometric Authentication Methods

1. Facial Recognition Methods

Facial recognition systems utilize a person’s unique facial features to verify their identity. The software analyzes the geometry of the face to create an encrypted digital model for facial data. This modality is widespread in smartphones, credit card payments, and travel. It is among the more convenient biometric authentication methods, with the user only needing to look into the device’s camera.

Pros of Facial Recognition

  • Most mobile devices have cameras, making it widely available
  • It requires minimal setup on modern devices with these capabilities pre-installed.
  • If the system fails for any reason, it is easy to employ a manual backup.
  • Requires minimal training or guidance.

Cons of Facial Recognition

  • Quality varies among facial recognition systems, with some more susceptible to bias and other errors. 
  • With advancements in AI, facial recognition is among the modalities that are being attacked with deep fakes. Implementing liveness detection technology can minimize this risk.  

2. Fingerprint Recognition Methods

Fingerprint authentication, a commonly used method, relies on a person’s unique fingerprint to verify their identity. It secures various assets, including mobile devices, automobiles, and buildings, making it a t practical form of biometric authentication.

Pros of Fingerprint Recognition

  • It is widely used across multiple industries.
  • Among the most prevalent biometric authentication methods.
  • Easy to use and doesn’t require much training.
  • Already captured in many cases as part of the account origination process via digital onboarding or identity verification systems.

Cons of Fingerprint Recognition

  • Requires dedicated sensors which may degrade over time.
  • May have a criminal connotation in certain contexts.
  • Performance can deteriorate due to fingerprint quality or environmental conditions like wet or dirty fingers.

3. Voice Recognition Methods

Voice recognition employs a person’s unique tone, pitch, and frequencies to authenticate them. It is commonly used to verify users when contacting customer service centers, such as online banking support.

Pros of Voice Recognition

  • It offers a convenient authentication process.
  • Some systems provide a specific phrase for the user, enhancing security.
  • Leverages built-in microphones in mobile phones; no other hardware is required.

Cons of Voice Recognition

  • Background noise can distort recordings, affecting accuracy.
  • Illnesses like the common cold can alter the voice and disrupt authentication.

4. Iris Recognition Techniques

Iris recognition uses the pattern of the iris to identify individuals. Although less common due to implementation complexity, it is highly accurate when proper conditions are met. This modality is typically used in high-security contexts, like nuclear research facilities.

Pros of Iris Recognition

  • The iris is an externally visible organ protected from injuries.
  • Pupil size changes can enhance liveness detection.

Cons of Iris Recognition

  • Implementation costs can be high.

5. Vein Recognition Techniques

Vein recognition uses the pattern of blood vessels in the hand or finger to identify individuals. It offers high accuracy and is challenging to counterfeit.

Pros of Vein Recognition

  • Vein patterns are highly unique and stable.
  • The internal nature of vein features makes them hard to counterfeit.

Cons of Vein Recognition

  • Requires specific sensors and infrared light, which can be costly.
  • Some users may have concerns about infrared light safety.

 6. Palm Recognition Authentication Techniques

Palm recognition uses the features present in palm prints to identify a person. The features include palm geometry, ridge patterns, and wrinkles. This technique is often combined with vein patterns for higher security applications.

Pros of Palm Recognition

  • Combines multiple unique identifiers for enhanced accuracy.
  • Vein patterns are resistant to spoofing.
  • Considered a more privacy by design modality as a palm print cannot be used to recognize someone with an untrained eye or special equipment.

Cons of Palm Recognition

  • Requires specific readers and infrared technology, which can be costly.
  • Performance can be affected by environmental conditions.

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What Is Liveness Detection?

Liveness detection is a critical process of verifying that a person is alive by using their body parts as an identifier. Biometric systems often employ additional technology to improve security, and the most common choice is liveness detection. For example, the technology can verify that a person has placed a finger on an infrared sensor. During an iris scan, this technology looks for the movement in a person’s eye.

When paired with facial recognition-based biometrics modality, liveness is detected by analyzing a person’s simple movements to ensure an authentic presence. Sometimes, this is done passively; sometimes, the user is prompted. By ensuring liveness, companies can prevent identity theft or fraud. The technology can also effectively verify the authenticity of identification documents, detecting spoofing and alterations. To sum it up, liveness detection is a critical step in ensuring the integrity of biometric authentication methods.

What Is Multimodal Biometric Authentication?

MFA in illustration - Biometric Authentication Methods

Multimodal biometric authentication stands out by adding layers to the authentication process. It requires multiple identifiers, which are read simultaneously. This differentiates it from the more commonly known multifactor authentication (MFA) where sensitive information is entered into a mobile and/or desktop device.

Enhanced Security and Convenience

Adopting multimodal biometric authentication can be a game-changer for organizations. It offers increased security without needing key cards, access cards, passwords or personal identification numbers. It also presents a formidable challenge to malicious actors, as faking two or more unique characteristics of an individual is much more difficult than faking only one.

Weighing the Advantages

While the benefits of multimodal biometric authentication are clear, it’s important to acknowledge the potential concerns, which center primarily around cost, friction, and the complexity of the system design. In most cases, it is enough to include one biometric modality with another possession factor—like a device or a hard token. 

Integrating Biometric Authentication with Anonybit

At Anonybit, our decentralized biometrics system design helps companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud. With a decentralized biometrics solution, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, and help desk authentication. We are on a mission to protect companies from data breaches, account takeovers, and synthetic identity fraud.

To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 biometric authentication and 1:N biometric matching to prevent duplicates, synthetics and blocklisted identities 

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, enable strong authentication to eliminate account takeovers, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit.

Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

Who Uses Biometric Authentication?

thumb print of a person - Biometric Authentication Methods

Biometric Authentication Techniques in Healthcare

Biometric authentication has shown promising uses, cases, and applications in healthcare. Fingerprint scanners, iris scanners, palm scanners, and facial recognition can help hospitals confirm a patient’s identity, ensure caregivers have access to the right medical information, and more.

Biometric Authentication Techniques in Travel and Hospitality

Recent advancements in the travel and hospitality industry include the use of biometric authentication. Select airlines and airports are offering their passengers the option to check into their flights using facial recognition. Similarly, hotels and hospitality companies are beginning to enable self-check-in using biometric authentication.

Biometric Authentication Techniques in Banking and Financial Services

Security and authentication are essential in many industries, particularly mobile banking. Financial institutions leverage biometric authentication as part of a two-factor or multi-factor authentication strategy to protect the bank and its customers from account takeover attacks.

Biometric Authentication Techniques in Payments

Using biometric authentication in payments and credit card processing is nascent and slowly expanding. Biometric payments involve scanning fingerprints, eyes, or faces to authorize transactions, adding more security without complexity or frustration. Cards may have built-in sensors to scan fingerprints, while registers or kiosks may have scanners for face or iris scans.

How To Choose The Best Biometric Authentication Method For Your Enterprise

choosing the right tool - Biometric Authentication Methods

Security

Security is a key consideration when choosing a biometric authentication method. The method chosen should safeguard sensitive data, such as banking information. For instance, fingerprint scans are less susceptible to falsification than other widely used methods, like signatures. 

Accuracy

Accuracy is critical when selecting a biometric method for a large user base. The chosen method should swiftly and accurately distinguish between biometric markers without the risk of confusing similar credentials. Authentication accuracy ensures the process’s integrity.

User Experience

The chosen biometric method should offer a quick and effortless experience. Technologies such as fingerprint and facial scans, which are familiar and easy to use, provide optimal choices. A seamless experience is vital for user satisfaction.

Cost

The cost of implementing a biometric method is a crucial factor to consider. If the method requires additional hardware beyond a standard mobile device, it may be unaffordable for many users. Cost-effectiveness is important for commercial and consumer-oriented apps.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Biometric Authentication

discussion on Biometric Authentication Methods

Advantages of Biometric Authentication

Enhanced Security

One of the most significant advantages of biometric authentication is its enhanced security. Biometric traits, such as fingerprints or facial characteristics, are unique to individuals. This uniqueness makes it extremely difficult for unauthorized individuals to impersonate or replicate, providing robust security for authentication processes.

Convenience

Biometric authentication eliminates the need to remember long and complex passwords or to carry physical tokens like keycards or fobs. This provides a seamless and user-friendly experience, enhancing customer satisfaction and user adoption rates.

Speed and Efficiency

Biometric authentication processes are quick and efficient, reducing the time it takes to authenticate a user. This speed and efficiency enhance customer satisfaction and increase productivity by reducing the time spent on authentication procedures.

Scalability

Biometric systems can handle many users, making them suitable for organizations of all sizes. This scalability makes biometric authentication viable for small businesses, large corporations, and organizations. 

Biometric Authentication Considerations

Privacy Concerns

Biometric data is highly personal and raises privacy concerns, as it involves capturing, storing, and using sensitive information about individuals. This issue has led to debates and discussions about the ethics and legality of biometric data collection, storage, and usage. By utilizing privacy-enhancing technologies such as multiparty computation and zero knowledge proofs, it is possible to overcome the concerns around biometric storage and prevent biometric data breaches.

Vulnerability to Spoofing

Biometric systems are not infallible and can be vulnerable to spoofing attempts. In these attacks, malicious actors try to replicate or manipulate biometric traits to gain unauthorized access. Utilizing liveness detection technologies helps to mitigate these risks.

Cost and Implementation

Depending on the modality, implementing biometric authentication systems may require specialized hardware, software, and infrastructure. Organizations planning to adopt biometric authentication methods must consider these costs and ensure they have the necessary resources for successful implementation.

False Acceptance and False Rejection

Biometric systems are imperfect and may experience false acceptance (authenticating an imposter) or rejection (rejecting a legitimate user). These errors can impact the accuracy and reliability of biometric authentication systems, necessitating continual improvements and refinements in the technology. Leveraging ongoing NIST tests helps identify the right modality and algorithm for a particular use case.

Related Reading

Book A Free Demo To Learn More About Our Integrated Identity Management Platform

At Anonybit, we help companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud with our decentralized biometrics technology. With our decentralized biometrics framework, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, help desk authentication, and more. 

Comprehensive Security Solutions for Companies

We aim to protect companies from data breaches, account takeovers and synthetic identity on the rise, privacy regulations, and digital transformation. To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 authentication and 1:N matching for lookups and deduplication

Balancing Privacy and Security with Anonybit’s Integrated Platform

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, reduce account takeover fraud, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit. Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

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