Biometric Authentication – Working, Methods, and Use Cases | Hacker Noon

@nareshkumarNaresh Kumar

Engineer turned Digital Marketer | Tech Enthusiast

Biometrics is a scientific term for the physical or behavioral characteristics of humans. Biometric authentication is a term used for biometrically enabled data protection. Biometric authentication software generates a data-driven model that represents an individual. Security systems can authenticate access to applications and other network services using that model and the biometric information collected during the enrollment and proofing process.

Since it combines a powerful authentication challenge with a low-friction user interface, biometric authentication is gradually becoming a common component of multifactor authentication strategies to reduce fraud and protect against the growing threat of hacking.

More simply, biometrics refers to every form of body measurement and calculation. Based on your body measurements, biometric authentication verifies that you are who you say you are by comparing the biometric information you present to a database of stored biometrics.

Biometric authentication compares two sets of data: the first set is captured at the time of enrollment, and the second is captured when the individual requests access. If the two data sets are nearly identical, the system recognizes that the enrolled individual and the requestor are the same individual and grants access.

It is important to remember that the two data sets need only be almost identical, but not completely. This is because matching two biometric data sets by 100 percent is nearly impossible. For example, you might have a slightly sweaty finger or a very small scar that alters the print pattern. The accuracy threshold for matching is a setting that can be adjusted by modality, allowing agencies to determine what is best for their operations. 

The fact that the process doesn’t need an exact match reduces the chances of a false negative while also raising the odds of accepting a fake fingerprint as real at the same time. This is where biometric fusion comes to the rescue. By combining different biometric modalities and fusing the results (i.e. fingerprint and face), false positives can be virtually eliminated. For example, identical twins may have similar enough facial features to fool facial recognition, but by adding iris or fingerprints, they are easily distinguishable from one another.

4 Major Types of Biometric Authentication Methods

A user’s body can be used to identify him in a variety of ways. The four most popular biometric technologies that have made their way into authentication are listed below:

1. Facial Recognition

One of the more convenient biometric authentication methods is facial recognition. A fingerprint scan or an authentication code causes more friction than looking into the device’s camera.

To build an encrypted digital model for facial data, facial recognition software analyses the geometry of the face, such as the distance between the eyes, the distance between the chin and the nose, and so on. When you authenticate, the facial recognition software will scan your face in real-time and compare it to a model stored in the system.

2. Fingerprint Recognition

The fingerprint recognition system is among the most ubiquitous modalities. For years, law enforcement officers have used fingerprints as a method of identification. The concepts of a fingerprint reader are the same, but the whole process is digitized. Everyone’s fingerprints are one-of-a-kind. Fingerprint scanners construct a digital image of the print by examining the ridges and pattern, which is then compared to potential attempts to authenticate.

3. Eye Recognition

Contrary to common opinion, there are two approaches for scanning the eye for authentication purposes. To distinguish users, the scan uses iris or retina recognition. During a retinal scan, the authenticator shines a light into the eye for a few seconds to illuminate the eye’s distinctive pattern of blood vessels.

The eye recognition tool can compare a user’s eyes to an initial by mapping this pattern. Iris scans are similar to retinal scans, but they look at the colored rings in the iris.

4. Voice Recognition

Voice recognition is one of the most convenient forms of biometric authentication. The sound of the user’s voice is analyzed with voice recognition. The length of a person’s vocal tract, as well as the form of his or her nose, mouth, and larynx, decide their distinct voice. Both of these factors combine to make voice analysis a reliable authentication process.

Biometric authentication is used in a broad range of applications across many industries. Here are a few examples of how biometrics are being used in some of these industries to increase the protection and productivity of current processes.

Banking and Financial Services

Many industries require security and authentication, and mobile banking is no exception. To secure the bank and its customers from account takeover attacks, financial institutions are using biometric authentication as part of their two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication strategy.

Travel and Hospitality Services

Several airlines and airports are now allowing passengers to check in for flights using facial recognition technology. Similarly, hotels and hospitality companies are starting to provide biometric authentication for self-check-in.

Healthcare Services

Fingerprint scanners, iris scanners, and facial recognition are examples of biometric identification that can help hospitals confirm a patient’s identity. They ensure that nurses have access to the correct medical records, controlled medications, and more.

Law Enforcement Agencies

Various types of biometric data are used by law enforcement, as well as other state and federal agencies for identification purposes. Fingerprints, facial expressions, iris patterns, speech samples, and DNA are among them.

The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) is a database and search engine for fingerprint identification. It was first used in the early 1970s as a way for police departments to speed up and improve their otherwise manual fingerprint recognition procedure. In recent years, AFIS is being replaced by Automated Biometric Identification Systems (ABIS) to add multiple biometrics to the database.

Conclusion

Biometric authentication has grown in popularity in recent years, with an increasing number of customers depending on it and even requesting it. By using biometrics, agencies and businesses can add additional roadblocks to prevent fraudsters from getting around security measures by ensuring that only a legitimate, registered user can access resources.

Even when a fraudster knows an individual uses their dog’s name and some lucky numbers for most of their online accounts, they won’t be able to use their fingerprint or palm image to open an account.

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