AI

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9 min read

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August 22, 2022

What Is Biometric Verification: Importance & Types

Want to know what is biometric verification? It is any means by which a person is uniquely identified. Click here to know the biometric verification meaning, types & more!

Any process of identity verification compares the data presented by someone to the existing data on the person they claim to be. The problem with general methods of verification such as pin, OTP, or password-based is that they are based on knowledge factors. If someone were to be able to replicate that ‘knowledge’ then they would have no difficulty gaining access. But what if the process of identification was tied to the physiological make up of the person. Would that not be more unique and foolproof? Absolutely. That’s biometric verification in simple terms for you.

Biometric verification is defined as a process of authentication where a person’s unique biological traits are used to confirm a claimed identity. With the rise of digitization and digital transformation, Biometric authentication or verification is today extremely popular. People using it include the common consumer with a fingerprint to log in to his laptop or unlock his mobile to the larger organizations that deploy identification as a service endpoint solutions. The Indian government is also encouraging biometric authentication, with the inclusion of a fingerprint (in addition to a mobile) linking to the Aadhaar. Everyone is incorporating some form of biometric authentication. And it will continue to be important for the foreseeable future also.

But why is biometric verification so popular? There are several reasons why every government of the world and larger organizations swear by it:

  1. It is unique. There is only one fingerprint for every individual, one iris scan they can present at all times, and a single face authentication they can provide even over time. Though the face does change with time, once the individual has crossed the age of twenty or so, the AI can match a video or recent image of the person with the one in the database, and it will be a unique 1:1 match.

  1. It is highly accurate. All three types of scans, fingerprints, iris scans and face recognition systems are very accurate. While it may be possible to fool a fingerprint or an iris scanner,  it is not so easy to get past a face recognition system. The accuracy of face recognition is the highest of these three (above 95%). The number of false positives and the number of false negatives are also very low for top identity verification service providers such as 

  1. It is almost 100% foolproof. It is not easy to find your way past the biometric verification system, especially when a well-trained AI is guarding it. In modern face recognition systems, especially that from HyperVerge,varying facial types from an ethnically diverse set of samples from across the world are used to train the AI. In addition, the in-house AI from HyperVerge is also benchmarked against those of the competitors to gain insights into what they do better or worse, so that the former keeps getting better at what it does - identification and fraud detection.

How does biometric verification work?

Biometric verification typically gains an input from the user, except that each type of biometric authentication differs from the other based on the input that is gathered and how that input is gathered and processed. In a biometric system, the identification is divided into six stages:

Endpoint gathers input

In this stage the biometric system gathers input from the user. It could be a fingerprint on a scanner, an iris scan, a voice input, or face scan. The biometric system may ask the user to perform one or more actions to increase the accuracy of the capture. 

Information saved in database

Once the input is captured, the information for the user including name and other details is stored in a database. A profile is created for each user and when he/she presents the credentials again, the access is granted to that particular profile with the authorization that it carries.

Presents scanner for verification

When the user returns for access permissions, a scanning device or app is presented. This may be a contact-based one such as in a fingerprint or a non-contact-based one such as in voice, iris, or face recognition. 

Endpoint sends information back to the AI

The endpoint then transmits the information back to the AI for verification against the database. This encryption is transmitted in an end-to-end encrypted manner.

AI pulls information from the database and checks

At this stage, the AI pulls the information from the database and performs a check based on the information that it has just gathered. Apart from doing a 1:1 check, it could also perform a 1:N DeDupe check to rule out the risk of fraud. 

Grants access if there is a match

If there is a match with the information provided in the database, then access is granted with the associated authorizations to the specific user. The user can then access the profile that was created for him/her.

Now let us look at three common types of authentication:

Fingerprint: In fingerprint-based authentication, you have to add a fingerprint manually to the database with your name and other details or add a whole batch of fingerprints along with client names and other details at a time. The system will require you to wipe your finger clean, and then place it on the scanner for identification each time. In order to make sure that the fingerprint of another is not being misused, the unique temperature or the heartbeat pattern of the person may also be noted by the fingerprint verification system. 

Voice-based authentication: Voice-based authentication uses speech recognition algorithms to save a profile for the user on the device. Whenever the user then gives a command, the device performs as instructed. Sometimes devices that allow multi-user access will not have any kind of specific authorizations tied to a user. A use case of this type is a Google Home Hub connected to your TV. Anyone in your family is free to use it. But wouldn’t it be great if each user could save his/her voice profile onto the device so that an outsider cannot freely use it. Sometime in the future maybe!   

Iris scan: The iris scan operates at a distance as opposed to a fingerprint scanner which needs physical contact and needs periodic cleaning of the contact points. In an iris scan, light emerges from the scanner into the iris of the subject and a scan is done. It is more secure than a fingerprint and more difficult to duplicate. To begin with, after a person’s eye is scanned, a recognition tool generates an iris code which is then used for future matching. The problem is if a hacker gets access to the database and gets a near identical image of the iris, then they could print it onto a contact lens and fool the scanner. And since it is just the final image that the iris scanner looks for, this might be a way to get past it.

Face recognition: All the advancements we have made over the years in biometrics have led us to better face recognition. This is the most accurate of the three and one which neither requires maintenance at the point of contact nor can be easily fooled by wearing a mask. Most face recognition systems, such as that from HyperVerge, are also equipped with an iBeta certified liveness detection system (mostly passive for better user experience) so that 2D or 3D dynamic attacks cannot fool it either.  

Types of biometric devices

There are several types of biometric devices. The most common ones are the fingerprint reader, the iris scanner and the special camera which maps the vectors on the face. Other biometric devices include a heart beat rate sensor (since each person has a unique heartbeat rate pattern) and a temperature sensor to add an additional layer of security to every biometric device confirming that it is a real person who has been presented for verification.

Applications of biometric technology

Biometric technology is present in most places where security is a prime concern. Some of the use cases for biometric technology are:

In offices

It is used in offices to verify the identity of employees and grant them access to restricted areas, such as a highly secure laboratory in a pharmaceutical company. Offices generally use face recognition systems.

At homes

Biometrics are used in several homes too, and are becoming common, replacing the familiar lock and key for a keyless, more secure access. In homes, facial recognition, fingerprint scans and iris scans are popular.

In cars

The ignition switch and the remote to open the doors are both biometric access based in few high-end cars these days. Both these points would generally use fingerprint-based access. Possibly in the future we could have ignition points that require face authentication? That would be great!

In airports

Airports, especially large ones, have been using iris scans for quite a few years now. To do this, you generally sign up for a scheme that records your iris pattern. The next time you are traveling you just walk in through a booth that scans your eyes and pulls up the details. You don’t have to present your details for verification every time. This greatly speeds up the travel process.  

For Schools

Some schools have been using face recognition systems for a few years now, in the interest of student safety and to make the premises more secure. In the UK, 30% of all secondaries use some form of biometric security.

Biometric verification at HyperVerge

At HyperVerge, the biometric verification used is face authentication. This is the one that provides the best experience for the end user. It is faster (with enhanced AI), is secure (end-to-end encrypted), highly ranked in NIST, and iBeta certified for passive liveness detection. With a very high accuracy rate, and low false positive and false negative rates, HyperVerge’s face recognition system is on the verge of toppling the giant ranked number 1 in the world for identity verification. Such accuracy is on offer thanks to the constant innovation, improved code, and continuous benchmarking that happens at HyperVerge.

Closing words

Biometric authentication is becoming a part of everyday life. With the increase in movement and intersection of people at various points in our daily lives, some form of access control seems mandatory and biometric verification fits that gap quite well. In the future we may see other forms of biometric authentication being developed and the ones in vogue get more accurate and secure. If you would like to implement face recognition at home or in your office, HyperVerge is waiting to hear from you. No more facepalms, only smiling faces with our identity verification solutions. Talk to us.

FAQs

What is the strongest type of authentication?

The strongest types of authentication are the biometric ones and of these face recognition is the one that is least susceptible to hacks.

Can an authenticator app use face recognition?

Yes, an authenticator can use any kind of security to serve as an additional layer of checks including OTP and face ID.

What is the strongest and safest biometric authentication method?

The strongest and safest biometric authentication method is face recognition. This is because iris scans and fingerprint readers can easily be manipulated in a way that makes hack detection very difficult.

Can fingerprint authentication be used in airports?

Yes fingerprint authentication can be used in airports, though they generally prefer to use iris scans. Face recognition is another option.

What is a federated identity?

Linking a user’s unique identification across identity management systems making it available to all of them is referred to as federated identity.

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