Biometric has become commonplace these days, as more and more corporate environments adopt the technology for the purposes of security and access control. But, do biometrics actually enhance security over other more traditional methods? In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of biometric security systems.
Advantage 1: No Passwords to Steal
The vast majority of data breaches are made up of passwords, approximately 80%; this makes them the single biggest weakness in personal and corporate security. Biometrics allows companies to replace passwords with a simple yet secure solution, which eliminates the threats to security that passwords pose.
Advantage 2: Proof of Identity
The main advantage of biometrics is that it requires proof of who is making the authentication attempt. While using a physical key or password will grant access to anybody in possession of them, a biometric system requires a physical component to be present to allow access, whether it be a fingerprint or an iris scan. Systems that provide identity-based access control bring a significant improvement to traditional means of security because there is nothing that can be borrowed, sold or stolen.
Advantage 3: User Convenience
While the internal processes of biometric authentication are highly complex and technical, from a user’s point of view, the interface is simple to use. All that is required for a user to verify their identity is to place a fingerprint on the sensor or pad, a process which takes a few seconds. By comparison, entering a username and password will take a little more time and there is always the possibly is mistakenly entering a character incorrectly. There is no possibility of typos or other errors with biometrics, there is either an exact match or not.
Advantage 4: Near Spoof-Proof
Biometrics, whether it be facial patterns, fingerprint minutiae or iris scanning, are nearly impossible to replicate. There is approximately a 1 in 64 billion chance of your fingerprint matching up with someone else’s. In this regard, biometrics are much more secure than any password protected system.
Disadvantage 1: False Positives
When enrolling a new user on a system, it is common for biometrics to scan the entire fingerprint and convert it into a data format. However some biometric authentication methods only use parts of the fingerprint to verify a match, thus providing a quicker result. This also creates the possibility of only partially matching fingerprints to successfully be accepted. From a security point of view, it is advisable to only allow full fingerprint matches to be accepted.
Disadvantage 2: Tracking
As more businesses make use of biometrics for their security, an important factor that needs to be taken into consideration is privacy. Each use of biometrics for access control creates a permanent digital record of a person’s presence that could possibly be tracked for malicious purposes. In this way, biometric data because been used to track a person’s movements with or without their knowledge.
Disadvantage 3: Data Breach Prevention
Companies that collect and store personal data are always under treat from potential hackers. If a password or PIN is compromised, there is always a possibility to change it; such changes are not possible with biometric data. Biometric data is irreplaceable should it be stolen, and so requires a higher level of security to keep safe from hackers.
Disadvantage 4: Cost
It is unsurprising that a more advanced and sophisticated system will require additional investment to implement than a more traditional system. In a 2018 survey taken by SpiceWorks, it was revealed that biggest reason among IT professionals for not using biometric authentication is the costs involved. Companies may have already invested a substantial amount into their existing system and are hesitant to update their current system or have to replace it entirely. However, as biometric systems become more commonplace, the overall costs of implementation will continue to decrease.
In conclusion, from the points raised here, it is clear to see that biometrics do greatly enhance the security of companies and individuals alike. It is by no means a perfect system as there are a few drawbacks, especially with regards to privacy concerns.
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