Biometric authentication has applications ranging from mobile phone access to airport security.
The term “biometrics” is derived from the Greek words “bio” (life) and “metrics” (to measure).
Therefore, the literal meaning of biometrics is the measurement and statistical analysis of people’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics.
Biometrics is a technological discipline that identifies people based on their distinguishing physical or behavioral characteristics.
As a result, biometric authentication is becoming a more prevalent means of establishing identification.
Advancements in biometric technology have made it possible to accurately identify individuals with high levels of certainty using various biometric modalities such as facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, iris scanning, voice recognition, and even gait analysis.
As technology advances, biometrics is getting increasingly integrated into our daily lives, from unleashing our smartphones to passing through security checkpoints at airfields.
But with these advancements come important questions about sequestration, security, and the ethical counter-accusations of collecting and storing certain sensitive information.
In this article, we’ll look at the biometrics universe, the advantages and downsides of utilizing biometrics, and the issues we’ll experience as we explore this fascinating and confounded subject.
We will also investigate the ethical questions that may arise due to the widespread use of biometric authentication and how individuals’ privacy can be protected while still using this powerful technology.
Table of Contents
- What is Biometric Authentication?
- What is the History of Biometrics?
- How Does Biometric Security Work?
- Various types of Biometrics Identifiers?
- Reliability and Risks Involved?
What is Biometric Authentication?
Authentication proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a person is who they claim to be.
Biometric authentication verifies this by examining unique biological or behavioral traits.
Biometric authentication is a security system that uses a person’s unique physical or behavioral characteristics to corroborate their identity.
It involves using biometric data similar to fingerprints, facial recognition, iris or retina reviews, voice recognition, and behavioral patterns like how a person types or walks to identify and authenticate a person.
Biometric authentication is used in several settings, from unleashing smartphones and laptops to penetrating secure installations and performing fiscal deals.
It is considered more secure than traditional authentication styles like passwords or PINs since biometric data is unique to each individual and can not be fluently replicated or stolen.
For example, a face or a retina can only be verified by a unimodal biometric authentication system.
However, as we’ve seen, such a system can be spoofed.
Multimodal biometric authentication can be of assistance here. During identity verification, this method checks multiple biometrics.
Spoofing becomes much more difficult for malicious actors as a result.
Nonetheless, biometric authentication also raises apprehension about privacy and security.
The collection and storehouse of sensitive biometric data can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks and abuse.
Hence, biometric authentication must be balanced with adequate security measures and ethical considerations to ensure the privacy and security of entities.
What is the History of Biometrics?
- 1880: Henry Faulds – Article on fingerprints in Nature
- 1893: Argentina First use of fingerprints as forensic evidence
- 1901: Scotland Yard – Adopted Galton/Henry system of classification
- 1924: FBI Set up its fingerprint identification division
- 1963: Mitchell Trauring – First paper on automatic Fingerprint matching
- 1970s: FBI Initiation NGI of AFIS
- 2004: DHS US-VISIT
- 2008: FBI NGI
- 2009: UIDAI – India started issuing 12-digit UID numbers to its residents
- 2014: Apple Pay 2-factor authentication
Due to significant advancements in computer processing capabilities, automated biometric solutions have only been available in recent decades.
On the other hand, many modern automated methods are based on concepts that have existed for hundreds to thousands of years.
Biometrics can be traced back to ancient civilizations when people used physical characteristics like fingerprints and facial features to identify one another.
Notwithstanding, the cutting-edge idea of biometrics started to fruition in the late nineteenth century when Sir Francis Galton, an English anthropologist, began exploring fingerprints for recognizing people.
During the 1880s, fingerprints were utilized not exclusively to distinguish hoodlums yet additionally as a type of agreement signature.
In addition, it was acknowledged that a person’s fingerprint could prove guilt or innocence.
Edward Henry is well-known for developing the Henry Classification System, a fingerprinting standard, despite disagreements regarding who initiated the practice of fingerprinting for identification.
Semi-automated facial recognition algorithms were created in the 1960s, requiring administrators to extract usable feature points from images of facial characteristics.
Far more time-consuming than the ones that allow us to unlock our phones.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology established a voice section in the 1980s to explore and develop language recognition systems.
These experiments were critical in developing today’s voice commands and recognition technologies.
The idea that irises, like fingerprints, were unique to each individual was introduced in 1985, and the first iris identification algorithm was patented in 1994.
By developing facial detection technologies, real-time face recognition was possible in 1991.
Although the techniques were imperfect, they have led to a growing interest in research on human face recognition, even if it is difficult.
Hundreds of biometric authentication recognition algorithms were patented in the United States by the 2000s.
Biometrics weren’t just being used by big businesses and the government anymore.
They were implemented at large-scale events like the 2001 Super Bowl and were sold as commercial products.
Biometric technology has seen considerable advances in the 21st century as more sophisticated algorithms and sensors have been developed.
As a result, biometric authentication is a standard feature in numerous sectors, such as healthcare, financial services, and law enforcement, to be used on today’s mobile phones, laptop computers, and other electronic devices.
How Does Biometric Security Work?
Biometric security uses individuals’ unique physical or behavioral characteristics to authenticate their identity.
This process involves several steps:
- Enrollment: Enrolling or registering a person’s biometric data into a database or system is the first step in biometric security.
This entails securely storing the biometric data captured by sensors like a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition camera.
- Feature Extraction: After the biometric data is taken, it is processed and looked at to find unique things, like how ridge patterns on a fingerprint look or how far apart points on a face are.
- Template Creation: A template, which is a mathematical representation of the individual’s biometric data, is created using the extracted features.
After that, the template is saved in the system or database and compared during authentication.
- Individuals are prompted to provide biometric information when accessing a system or transaction.
- To verify their identity, the system takes their biometric data and compares it to a template that is already stored.
- If that information matches the format inside a specific similarity limit, the validation interaction is fruitful, and the individual is conceded admittance or approval.
Biometrics provides several advantages over conventional security techniques, such as passwords and PINs, because the data is unique to each person that cannot easily be duplicated or counterfeited.
But it is not hundred percent reliable, and there are concerns over privacy and the safety of biometrics, which need to be monitored and guarded carefully.
What are the Various Types of Biometrics Identifiers?
Various types of biometric identifiers can be used for identification and authentication. Here are some of the most commonly used types:
- Fingerprint Recognition:
The unique ridge-and-valley patterns on a person’s fingertips are captured and analyzed for this biometric identifier.
It can be found in smartphones, laptops, and physical access control systems, making it one of the oldest and most widely used biometric identifiers.
- Facial Recognition: For this biometric identifier, the unique characteristics of a person’s face, such as its distance from eye to nose or mouth, shall be captured and analyzed.
It is used frequently in access controls, surveillance, and law enforcement.
- Iris Recognition:
The unique patterns of an individual’s iris, the colored ring surrounding the eye’s pupil, are captured and analyzed for this biometric identifier.
It is frequently used in high-security applications like border control and airport security because it is regarded as one of the most accurate biometric identifiers.
- Voice Recognition:
The distinctive characteristics of a person’s voice, including tone, pitch, and frequency, are captured and analyzed to create this biometric identifier.
It is frequently used in voice-activated devices and telephone banking.
- Behavioural Biometrics:
A person’s unique behavioral patterns, such as typing on a keyboard or mouse, are captured and analyzed for this biometric identifier.
It is ordinarily utilized in extortion discovery and anticipation in monetary establishments.
- DNA Analysis: An individual’s DNA is analyzed for this biometric identifier to identify them. Due to DNA analysis’s high cost and lengthy nature, it is not frequently used for everyday identification and authentication.
- Vein Recognition:
- Vein recognition is a biometric system that uses a person’s hand vein patterns to identify them.
- This technique makes a guide of the veins underneath the skin to be looked at from here on out.
- This system is frequently used in high-security facilities due to the difficulty of falsifying vein patterns.
- Vein scanning is regarded as one of the biometric authentication methods that are the most secure and consistently accurate compared to fingerprint and facial recognition.
- In any case, execution costs are higher in return for exceptionally high safety and confirmation.
- Ear Recognition:
- The shape and elements of the human ear uncover explicit attributes that consider the distinguishing proof of a person.
- In countries like France, where ear identification has been used for a long time, details of an arrested person’s ears were taken as part of their criminal record, along with their face and fingerprints.
- Ear recognition has evolved into a viable automated biometric technology over the past ten years thanks to the development of cutting-edge computing algorithms like convolutional neural networks.
- These algorithms now have applications beyond the traditional roles it plays in law enforcement.
- Gait Recognition:
- Stride acknowledgment is a biometric framework that uses the state of somebody’s body and how it moves while strolling or rushing to distinguish them.
- These frameworks are perfect for mass group observation but not for confirmation purposes.
- Because it can be influenced by clothing and deliberate deceptive measures, gait recognition can have a much higher error rate than other biometric identification methods.
Reliability and Risks Involved?
Biometric authentication has several advantages, including increased user convenience and security.
However, it also comes with risks and limitations, like any security technology.
The technology’s dependability is a significant issue with biometric authentication.
Even though each person’s biometric data is unique, it is only sometimes 100% accurate, and false positives and negatives can occur.
The accuracy of facial recognition systems, for instance, can be affected by lighting or facial expressions, and fingerprint recognition can be affected by skin injuries or changes.
Furthermore, spoofing attacks, in which a person attempts to impersonate another person using a photograph or other means, can target some biometric identifiers, such as facial recognition.
The possibility of data breaches or the misuse of biometric data is yet another cause for concern.
In contrast to passwords or other confirmation techniques, biometric information can’t be changed, so if biometric data is compromised, the singular’s protection and security can be in danger.
As a result, it is of the utmost importance to guarantee the privacy and security of biometric data and secure storage and transmission.
Legal and ethical issues also accompany the application of biometric technology.
For instance, there are worries about the potential for segregation, predisposition, or profiling in utilizing biometric information.
The problem is ensuring that biometric data are not used for unauthorized purposes and obtaining informed consent from individuals.
Strong security measures like encryption and safe storage of biometric data are essential for mitigating these dangers and guaranteeing the validity of biometric authentication.
It is also necessary to regularly assess and update security protocols to address emerging risks and threats and to remain abreast of the most recent developments in biometric technology.
In conclusion, biometrics technology has rapidly altered how individuals are identified and verified in various settings.
Biometrics has become a reliable and secure verification method thanks to advancements in biometric modalities and algorithms, providing advantages like improved security, convenience, and efficiency.
Biometric authentication, on the other hand, has also raised ethical and privacy concerns.
Therefore, it is necessary to put in place the proper measures to ensure that people’s rights are protected and that the technology is used ethically and responsibly.
These actions might incorporate clear, straightforward strategies, vigorous information insurance, and strict guidelines.
From security to healthcare and beyond, biometrics technology has the potential to change many aspects of our lives.
However, to ensure that the technology empowers and safeguards individuals rather than infringes on their rights, we must balance the advantages and ethical and privacy considerations as we continue to develop and refine biometric systems.