Currently, biometrics remains to be the strongest strategy for verifying personal identity and authenticity. Instead of relying on details that can be easily memorized, such as tokens or passwords, a person is verified by his or her unique physical features. You can read more about biometrics here.
While the idea of biometrics seems to be a fairly complex solution to a simple problem, it solves the common vulnerabilities and issues that exist on common authentication methods like passwords. Biometrics rely on inherently immutable pieces of information about a person.
Advantages of biometrics:
Let’s take a closer look at some prominent advantages of the technology.
Integrity and Non-Repudiation
Textual or numerical pieces of information like passwords or two-factor tokens can easily be memorized by anyone. If a user is operating in a compromised network, attackers can potentially extract them by keylogging, session hijacking, or intercepting traffic.
However, biometrics rely on a person’s physiological features, which are very difficult to replicate and falsify. This ensures that the original person is always present in the verification process.
Improves User Experience
Combined with the security benefits of biometric systems, they also improve the overall user experience. Even if the entire verification process seems complex under the hood, users find it quick and easy to get themselves verified simply by their own presence.
Another reason for the adoption of biometric systems is due to their inclusivity. Anyone can benefit from it, including older adults and individuals who are not highly familiar with the technology.
Disadvantages of biometrics:
However, the idea leads to a certain problem. Even if a system attempts to verify a person’s identity with a very high level of integrity, this strategy is only as secure and effective as the system that implements it.
Tradeoffs of Immutability
Because biometrics will require very specific details about a person, a compromised system that implements biometrics can potentially expose even more sensitive information.
Because of biometric information’s immutability, there are only very few ways a person can protect himself or herself once the information has been stolen by an attacker.
Easy to Break if Not Well-Implemented
While the difficulty of replicating the specific information about a person’s eyes seems impossible, even sophisticated identity verification systems are only as secure as the device which implements it.
If iris recognition systems are also not well-implemented, anyone can break it by simply having access to a person’s personal picture. In 2017, a group called Chaos Computer Clubs (CCC) managed to fool the Samsung Galaxy S8’s iris recognition system with a dummy eye.
State of Biometrics
While the disadvantages seem to be a sufficient basis to deem biometrics as unreliable, it is still considered as the standard way of verifying personal identity in 2020, and the biometrics market is still expected to grow even further in 2021. This includes the wide adoption of e-passports.
The reason for this growth is due to large and continuous efforts to make biometric systems reliable by implementing end-to-end security. For many institutions, cities, and large businesses, biometrics speed up logistics, and they provide security, reliability, and convenience in a single package.
To see how the state of biometrics may grow in 2021, we need to look at the research, innovations, and progress in the technology within 2020.
AI and Deep Learning Integration
We also see consistent efforts in making biometric systems more and more sophisticated in 2020. For instance, companies in India are attempting to supplement biometric cameras with deep learning algorithms for video surveillance.
Some researchers are also trying to improve the system by combining information about multiple physiological traits (multimodal biometrics) with the assistance of convolutional neural networks, a type of neural network that is commonly applied in object recognition.
There is also continuous progress in other strategies, such as gait analysis. In gait analysis, a person is verified according to his or her locomotion. In other words, each person is distinguished by the way they walk.
While gait analysis seems to be only applicable in the context of city-wide surveillance, we are also currently seeing its adoption on the consumer-end.
However, COVID-19 Pandemic has a severe impact on the fingerprint recognition systems market. The sales in the global market fell down significantly by 22%.
This decrease is aided by the slow transition of businesses and the public sector towards contactless biometric systems. Despite all this, the fingerprint market is still projected to recover by 2021 and grow significantly by 2025.
While the perfections of biometric systems come with certain disadvantages and flaws, biometric systems are still here to stay, and we still see continuous developments in the technology in 2020.
The market is still expected to grow by 2021, especially due to the slowly growing adoption of contactless biometric systems. They are highly crucial for many industries to stay in momentum, and there are consistent efforts and researches being made to make it as secure as possible.