Securing the Digital World

Biometric Security: Making Authentication More Secure and Convenient

Mar 24, 2016 | by RSA |

Concerns about biometric security, its usability, and the potential for spoofing are starting to dissapate. Fingerprint sensors are now being built into the latest smartphone models, which means more people are becoming comfortable with the technology. Although some users still cite concerns with biometric security, convenience is the main driver for its increased adoption.

Biometrics Suited for Mobile Environments

Biometrics are well-suited to the mobile environment, since they allow for multifactor authentication in a way that is quick and easy for users. Security fears have been reduced, partly because biometric templates can be stored directly on the device so only the person in possession of the device can access it. They are also helping to reduce security issues caused by users having to remember too many passwords. Thanks to these benefits, the Biometrics Research Group claims biometric sensors on smartphones will generate $9 billion in annual revenue by 2018.

Biometric authenticators can be used for both authentication and identity verification. The tools provide answers to the following questions:

  • Who is trying to gain access to services?
  • Are they who they say they are?

With the vast proliferation of mobile devices and growth of cloud services usage, biometrics should be considered as part of any organization's multifactor identification and authentication strategy.

Next-Generation Biometrics on the Rise

There is a range of biometric identifiers that can be used for identification and authentication. Most users are most familiar with physiological biometrics techniques such as fingerprint scans, hand geometry, iris scans, and DNA analysis. Facial recognition is increasingly being used as well. Cameras are built into smartphones and tablets, and applications now allow users to take a selfie to authenticate themselves.

However, a new generation of techniques based on behavioral analysis is evolving. These methods look at attributes such as keystroke dynamics, voice patterns, signature analysis, gesture dynamics, gait, or navigation habits. These are even less intrusive than physiological traits because no conscious action is required on the part of the user.

Use Cases

Biometric security is being seen as a secure and convenient authentication mechanism in a wide range of scenarios. Recent research from Tractica shows the key industries using biometrics over the next decade will be finance, consumer devices, health care, and government. Key use cases include consumer device authentication and the security of financial applications.

Biometric security has a lot to offer in terms of enhanced identity verification and user convenience. Traditional forms of biometrics will lead the way over the next couple of years, helped by the inclusion of biometric sensors in a wider range of consumer devices and wearables. As organizations become more comfortable with biometric authentication, some of the newer behavioral techniques will become more widely used as well.