Currently, the violation of data and accounts is the order of the day. One of the most used security methods is using a username and password. However, It is not always as operative as we want it to be, and there are other options available. One of them is biometrics, which can be, for example, fingerprints; although it may seem more secure than a traditional method, it also has its drawbacks. Today in RedesZone, we will explain the strengths and weaknesses of the use of biometrics.
The first thing we will do is briefly know what biometrics is and its most common access methods. Then we will talk about biometric authentication, which continues to grow by leaps and bounds to replace passwords. However, as we will see later, it also has its drawbacks.
Table of Contents
What are Biometrics and The Most Popular Access Methods
Biometrics could define it as taking standardized measures of living beings to identify them. Also, within information technologies (IT), we have biometric authentication, which applies mathematical and statistical techniques to an individual’s physical or behavioural traits for their identification. In short, it is a way of verifying the identity of that person.
The most common methods to perform biometric authentication are the following:
- The fingerprint.
- Iris recognition.
- Facial recognition.
- Vascular biometry is to built on the extraction of a biometric pattern from the finger vein tree’s geometry.
- Voice recognition.
- The writing and the signature.
In the identification process, biometric traits relate to those of a previously saved set of patterns. It must be practical that it does not imply knowing the identity of the alleged individual. You take a new sample of biometric data from the new user and compare it with the registered patterns.
Traditional Security Systems are Failing
Today, data breaches are steadily increasing. It has meant that the traditional password-based system is not at its best. These security breaches are mainly occurring due to the reuse of passwords. The solution that some companies have chosen is to replace those passwords with biometric authentication.
Consequently, biometrics has risen as an authentication solution superior to passwords. However, biometrics also has its problems. We’ll review these thoroughly, and then see that it presents a significant set of challenges.
Biometrics Cannot be Changed
The significant drawback of biometrics is that, which cannot be changed once biometric access is compromised. Let’s take an example to make it perfect. Let’s imagine for a moment that our facial data of face, fingerprint, and iris are open. In that sense, if a person’s biometric information is compromised, any account that uses this authentication method is at risk, as there is no way to reverse the damage because it cant be improved.
Therefore, since biometrics is forever, companies must make it as difficult as possible for cybercriminals to crack the biometric information algorithm. The other way to do this would be by using a robust hashing algorithm and not storing any data in plain text.
The Exploitation of Facial Biometrics
Every day we are more exposed to the Internet, and sometimes we do not realize the consequences. For example, we could obtain facial information online through a social network or website photo. One thing to consider is that, if we compare them with passwords, they will always be private unless anyone stole them.
Thanks to that photo, we could replicate a person’s facial biometric parameters with the appropriate technology. It could also affect facial recognition; it could also affect voice (taken from a video) or other systems.
The Limitations of Current Equipment
The problem is that, although we have quite a few devices with biometric scanners, many of the ones we use regularly do not support biometric authentication. Biometrics are not standard on desktop or laptop computers right now, as they generally do not include biometric readers. We must also consider that biometrics is still minimal when logging into a website with a browser. In this sense, until computers and Internet browsers are compatible with biometric authentication, it has very few possibilities.
Smart devices such as Android or IOS smartphones have biometric authentication in which the authentication data will store locally. However, this approach, in which sensitive biometric signatures will not save on servers, excludes us from using them in any other way. We would have to register again with credentials such as username and password to implement it. Before biometric authentication reactivates, the new device must have this technology. In short, we need a different model for biometric authentication in which the biometric pattern will save on a server.
The Problem of Biometric Changes
The other thing to remember in mind is the possibility of biometrics changes. The option of changes in biometrics is a fact that can affect workers. A burn on a finger can affect our fingerprint, or an injury that disfigures the face can be some examples. It is undoubtedly a significant potential problem. We refer to the case in which biometric authentication was the only authentication method in use, and there was no backup available.
You also have to talk about phishing threats. Cybercriminals have succeeded in getting scanners to validate fingerprints by using templates or replicas of fingerprints or valid users’ faces. Although this technology has improved a lot, it is still far from perfect.
What should we do if a biometric violation occurs
In the hypothetical case of a breach related to biometric authentication, we could be in great danger. The moment the attacker gains access, they can change the logins for these accounts and lock the worker out of their account.
Thus, the company’s action is very important, which immediately alerts users to take appropriate measures to minimize risk. When a violation occurs, both companies and their workers should instantly turn off biometrics on their devices. They should then revert to the defaults, which generally use a username and password-based credential system.
The best way for organizations to ensure their security is to take a layered approach to safety. The ease of use of biometrics makes it an attractive option for both businesses and users. However, if we depend only on biometric authentication, it is a high-risk strategy since the inconveniences and risks mentioned above must consider.