What is Biometrics? How Is It Used For Security?

Biometrics are swiftly replacing traditional password authentication processes. But what gives them the upper hand over their conventional counterparts?

For a long time, passwords have played an essential role in accessing personal data. They have been widely required to access everything. Whether it’s for making a transaction online or logging into your favourite game, there is a password needed for every authentication process. And with the rapidly increasing data around the world, it is just becoming harder to keep track of all your passwords.

But what if you don’t have to?  

Biometrics is making it possible to complete an authentication process without a password. Sounds familiar? Think of the face ID scanner on your smartphone or a thumb scan at a government office. These are both examples of biometrics. 

Biometric technology can be defined as the measurement and statistical analysis of an individual’s unique characteristics. It helps technology to identify what makes you well-YOU. 

Biometric verification is rapidly becoming common in corporate and public security systems, consumer electronics, and point of sale applications. 

That brings us to the question: How do biometrics exactly function?

Biometric devices broadly include three distinct components: 

  1. A reader or scanning device 
  2. A software to convert the scanned biometric data into a digital format 
  3. A database to store the biometric data for comparison 

Let us take the example of your mobile phone’s fingerprint scanner. When you register your fingerprint for authentication, your phone scans the finger and converts that data into a binary code. This information is then registered in its database. Every time you scan your finger, your phone cross-checks the current data with the one in the database and if they match, grants access. 

There are two main types of biometric identifiers: Physiological identifiers. These include facial, iris, voice and vein recognition, retina scanning, and DNA matching. The second type of identifier is behavioural identifiers, which include the unique ways in which individuals act like typing patterns or walking gate. 

Biometric security has many advantages over traditional forms of security, like passwords. For starters, biometric data is much more troublesome to steal. And unlike passwords, there is nothing for users to remember. All you really need to access your information, is well, yourself.

The future of biometrics is exciting. From options like:

-Pay by Face in the banking sector, 

-Curb-to-gate contactless airports in the transportation sector, 

-Staff-less stores that authenticate transactions using fingerprint scans or

-Facial scans to transit networks adopting contactless solutions 

Biometric technology is rapidly becoming a standard for privacy and authentication.