Looking ahead: 7 reasons why biometric security is important for digital identity

August 30, 2019

The importance of biometrics

According to the U.S. edition of the 2018 Deloitte global mobile consumer survey, years of regular biometric usage "has reached critical mass." One example: 63% of people banking from their smartphone and 67% who transfer money online from a mobile device use at least one type of biometric authentication.

What is biometric security?

Biometric security means verifying identity against specific physical or behavioral characteristics such as fingerprints, iris scans, facial recognition, voice tone, typing patterns, mouse movements, or Internet usage. These are highly valued identifiers because they are universal, specific, measurable, and documentable. And unlike passwords, KYC responses, or authentication tokens, users can’t forget or misplace their biometrics.

7 Reasons for using biometrics for security

The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report revealed passwords accounted for a staggering 81% of data breaches. Using biometrics for security decreases potential hacks and account takeover fraud by requiring the person initiating a transaction to prove they are whom they claim to be. Indeed, there are multiple reasons why biometrics is important to digital identity security.

1. Biometric recognition creates a specific link between an individual and a data record. Physical characteristics and behavior patterns are personally unique, and unlike passwords or PINs, can't be deciphered or recreated by sophisticated hacking software.

2. Biometric authentication thwarts fraudsters’ efforts to create multiple fake digital identities. Culling through existing biometric data exposes people who already registered with a different identity.

3. Biometrics are not exchangeable. Because fingerprints or keyboarding patterns aren’t transferable, biometrics is especially effective in protecting sensitive information such as financial data or healthcare records.

4. Open banking demands reliable digital identity protection. Banks choosing to increase their online product offerings by opening their digital infrastructure to third party fintech providers need the reliable and specific digital identity protection biometric security delivers.

5. Biometrics balance convenience, security, and user experience. Users forget passwords and PINs; their fingerprints are always available. Consumers lose smart cards or tokens; they always have their face. User-friendly biometric systems deliver exactly what consumers want: frictionless and secure user experiences.

6. Inborn biometrics don’t change. A haircut or cosmetic surgery can alter facial contours, but inherent biological traits do not change over a lifetime.

7. Stolen biometric data can be challenging to use. Today's sophisticated biometric systems use "liveness" elements to detect spoofs (a.k.a. fake images), and some fingerprint scanners have pulse detectors. The effort required to hack a database, steal biometric files, then create useful replicas to gain access to mobile devices or online accounts is arguably too much work for identity thieves[JC6] .

Summary

The three primary authentication measurements to validate identity rely on something one knows (e.g., passwords or PINs), something one has (e.g., security tokens or key cards), or something one is (e.g., biometrics).

Techopedia’s claim that biometrics is the “strongest and most foolproof physical security technique used for identity verification,” is the fundamental reason why biometrics is important to online security and digital identity.

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