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Biometric authentication explained

What is Biometric authentication?

Biometric authentication is a process of proving your identity using unique biological characteristics such as fingerprints, voice, retinal patterns, etc. This authentication technique is becoming more popular since Apple introduced a fingerprint scanner in the iPhone.

Why choose biometric authentication?

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    Simple

    In this type of authentication, there is no need to remember any details or carry around security keys.

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    Secure

    It's also highly secure, as it's difficult to break into a system that requires an identifier that cannot be copied or possessed.

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    Quick and user-friendly

    The authentication process is done in a few seconds and requires little to no training, as the users only need to touch a scanner or click a selfie.

Biometric identifiers

A biometric identifier is a parameter that can be measured to identify a person uniquely, and it serves as an access code in biometric authentication. They can be either physiological or behavioral identifiers.

 

Physiological identifiers include:

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    Fingerprint

    Fingerprint authentication compares a user's fingerprint to the stored fingerprint templates to validate the user's identity.

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    Face recognition

    Face recognition systems detect a face from a live camera source and compare it with the available database of known faces to find a match in order to complete authentication.

  •  

    Retinal pattern

    In retinal authentication systems, the identifier is the unique blood vessel patterns of the retina.

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    Hand geometry

    In this biometric, users are identified by the shape of their hand.

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    Odor/scent:

    Body odor is a new biometric identifier that is proving to be more effective than other emerging identifiers. This identifier is still under development and not yet in use.

Behavioral identifiers include:

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    Voice

    Voice recognition systems analyze a person's voice to validate their identity.

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    Typing rhythm

    A person's typing pattern is unique due to neuro-physiological factors. This can be used to identify a person.

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    Handwriting

    Similar to typing rhythm, the handwriting of a person can serve as an identifier, as it is distinct for each person.

As simple and secure as it sounds, biometrics do come with their own cons. For instance, since skin elasticity decreases with age, older individuals may experience difficulty authenticating themselves using their fingerprints. Worse yet, leaked biometrics could lead to compromised identities.

It's important to remember that biometrics are not 100 percent accurate. The biometric authentication system simply tries to find the best match to the given input identifier from the available collection of biometric data.

To combat these issues, there are biometric systems with modifications.

  • Adaptive biometric systems
  • Multimodal biometric systems

Adaptive biometric systems auto-update their biometric data with the changing environment and aging of the biometric identifiers.

Biometric system in which authentication requires more than one biometric identifier is called a multimodal biometric system. This improves the accuracy and also provides alternatives.

Fitting in with multi-factor authentication

We already know why it's better to use biometrics in conjunction with other authentication techniques. Multi-factor authentication systems use multiple authentication methods to verify users identities. They generally include identifiers that involve:

  • What you know (password, security pin, etc.).
  • What you have (passport, debit card, credit card, etc.).
  • What you are (biometric identifiers).
 

Why are IT enterprises reluctant to use biometrics?

Even though biometrics are an easy and effective security solution, we don't see widespread use of it in IT enterprises because:

  • People are reluctant to the idea of their biometric data being stored in a central location where it can potentially be compromised.
  • Implementing and maintaining a biometric authentication system is complex and expensive.
  • Lack of knowledge about the available biometric technologies and standards.

Meet ADSelfService Plus, a comprehensive biometric authentication system

ADSelfService Plus is an integrated Active Directory self-service password management and single sign-on solution that offers over 15 authentication methods for machine logon, application logon, and VPN logons. The biometric authentication methods supported by ADSelfService Plus include:

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    Fingerprint authentication

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    Face ID authentication

How ADSelfService Plus mitigates your concerns

The biometric data required for verification is not stored in a central database. When the fingerprint/Face ID has to be verified, ADSelfService Plus requests the mobile phone's OS to check if the given fingerprint/Face ID matches the stored one.

There is no need to deploy and maintain a separate biometric authentication system, as ADSelfService Plus utilizes the fingerprint scanner and facial recognition system readily available in almost every smart phone. This eliminates the added costs of purchasing the required hardware, too.

Other awesome features of ADSelfService Plus include:

Multi-factor authentication prevents over 99.9 percent of account attacks.

Leverage ADSelfService Plus' multi-factor authentication features to secure your user accounts.

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