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Passwords have become a significant issue for both system administrators and security specialists. According to recent studies, the majority of system invasions are caused by password compromises, as most users utilize inadequate password management practices.

Many of us have multiple accounts we access with a single password because we are tired of forgetting or resetting passwords. To make matters worse, we sometimes let the system save the passwords for us, which adds to our security issues because anyone with access to the computer, including our cleaning crew and other visitors, can access our accounts.

Furthermore, many of us use basic passwords or write them down to recall later. When we use the same password to access several accounts, we increase our risk because hackers can access more of our accounts with just one password if our passwords are stolen.

As you can see, if passwords are not managed properly, they might cause problems, and we must investigate alternative alternatives. According to Verizon’s security study, the number of data breaches involving stolen or weak passwords has increased from 50% to 81% in the last three years. This concerning trend plainly demonstrates that today’s security is ineffective.

The industry is offering innovative solutions to the password security challenge, such as biometric authentication and multi-factor authentication. When using multi-factor or dual-factor authentication, the problem persists if one of the factors is, you guessed it, a password. It is commonly stated that humans are the weakest link in an organization’s security. We emphasize here that the password if it is one of the authentication factors, is the weakest link in the multi-factor authentication procedure.

The use of biometrics for authentication allows the system to identify and permit people into the system through their physical features. Typically, a biometric system scans and records your distinct features and saves them in a database, then uses the data to identify you later. Today there are various biometric identification methods, including voice, iris and retina, facial, gait, fingerprints, and vein detection. The advantages of using biometric authentication include:

  • No need to remember passwords to gain access
  • The authentication mechanism is strong since it is hard to replicate biological features
  • It is non-transferable to other persons

Potential Vulnerabilities Linked to Biometric Authentication

A biometric system is a device that gathers information from a person’s biological or behavioral traits in order to identify that individual. To propose new approaches or improve the performance and accuracy of an existing system, one must first understand the primary biometric system, the parameters used in its development, the types of errors, the biometric scenario, the biometric characters used for an application, the system’s limitations, and modern approaches. Any biometric machine is inadequate. There will always be a need to improve the accuracy and performance of the biometric system.

Read Also: Zero Trust Architecture: Reimagining Network Security

The biometric system is subjected to many malicious attacks which can be performed by various forms of threats. Malicious attacks on a biometric machine are a security concern and degrade the system’s performance. Biometric system has various limitations like spoof attacks, noisy sensor data, interclass variations, and interclass similarity, etc.

The high attacks are relevant to any biometric system that is to be analyzed, and countermeasures are to be taken while designing the biometric system. The different attacks in biometrics systems are as follows:

Fake Biometric: With the advent of modern technologies, various hackers nowadays give a fake biometric sample to a sensor to get access to the biometric system. Fake face masks, false fingerprints made from silicon, the lens on an iris, etc. are a few such malicious attacks on the sensor.

Replay Attack: In this attack, the data stream that is contained in the biometric system is injected between the sensor and the processing system. A replay attack can be of two to three-stage process. It first intercepts or copies the sensor transmission, then it modifies or alters the information, thus finally replaying the data.

Spoofing the Feature set: The replacement of the feature set with fake or altered features is called the spoofing of data. These types of spoofing attacks are typically used to attack various networks, spread malware, and gain confidential information.

Template Tampering Attack: A template represents a set of salient features that summarizes the biometric data (signal) of an individual. The templates can be modified to obtain a high verification score, no matter which image is presented to the system. The templates that are stored in the database can be replaced, stolen or even can be altered. Thus, bringing the system down by making the score low for legitimate users. The template-generating algorithms have been viewed as one-way algorithms.

Overriding Yes/No response: An inherent error prevailing in your biometric systems is that the result of the system is always a binary response, Yes/No (i.e., either match/no match). In other words, there is still a fundamental disconnect between the biometrics and applications, which makes the system, open to potential attacks.

Trojan horse attack: In a Trojan horse attack the feature extractor is itself replaced to produce the desired features and to add on those features in the existing database. Spoof detection technology has become a crucial part of a biometric system as with an increasing concern for security, biometric attacks are to be identified, controlled and minimized. Researchers are developing various new approaches for a secure biometric system.

Masquerade attack: It was demonstrated that a digital “artifact” image could be created from a fingerprint template so that this artifact is submitted to the system, and will produce a match. The object may not even resemble the real image. This attack poses a significant threat to remote authentication machines. Since a hacker does not even have to bother to obtain a valid biometric sample, all he needs is to get access to the templates stored on a remote server.

Best Practices For Implementing Biometric Authentication

Enterprises may guarantee that their biometric authentication systems are secure and effective in securing sensitive information and systems by adhering to these best practices. Here are some best practices to consider when adopting biometric authentication:

  1. Use multi-factor authentication: While biometric authentication is very secure, it is still important to use it in conjunction with other forms of authentication, such as passwords or security tokens, to provide an additional layer of security.
  2. Encrypt biometric data: Biometric data should be encrypted and stored securely to prevent unauthorized access. This data should be encrypted both in transit and at rest.
  3. Ensure biometric data accuracy: Biometric systems should be tested to ensure that they accurately recognize authorized users while rejecting unauthorized users. False positives and false negatives can be detrimental to the security of the system.
  4. Establish clear policies: Enterprises should establish clear policies and procedures for the collection, use, and storage of biometric data. These policies should be communicated to all employees and stakeholders involved in the system.
  5. Regularly update biometric systems: Biometric systems should be regularly updated with the latest software and firmware updates to address security vulnerabilities and ensure that the system is operating at peak performance.
  6. Conduct regular audits: Regular audits should be conducted to ensure that biometric systems are being used properly and that security protocols are being followed.
  7. Provide training: Employees should be provided with training on how to properly use the biometric system and how to recognize potential security threats.

Overall, biometric authentication is important to enterprises because it provides a more secure and reliable way to authenticate users, eliminates the need for employees to remember complex passwords, and can help enterprises comply with regulatory requirements. As more enterprises adopt biometric authentication, we can expect to see increased security, improved user experiences, and greater compliance with regulatory requirements.

Types And Benefits of Biometric Authentication

Biometric technology is being used in a wide range of applications and services. Here are a few examples of common ones with which individuals engage on a regular basis for both physiological and behavioral biometrics:

1. Personal hardware – phones, laptops, PCs, tablets.

2. Financial transactions – payments like wire transfers often ask for verification of a person’s identity before processing

3. Healthcare – Biometrics can help doctor’s offices, hospitals, and clinicians keep better records of patients, or prevent violations by preventing the disclosure of medical records to non-approved parties

4. Law enforcement – Agents use biometrics daily to catch and track criminals. Fingerprints and DNA analysis anyone? Biometrics are also used by jails and prisons to manage inmates. For instance, agents will take pictures of an inmate’s tattoos in order to track criminal organization affiliation and build a biometric characteristics profile

5. Airports – Many modern airports are beginning to use facial recognition biometrics. Travelers can enroll by having a photo of their eyes and face captured by a camera. When traveling, instead of waiting in long queues to be processed, passengers simply walk into an expedited queue, look into a camera that compares their face to their biometric database and are approved

Now that know more about what biometrics are, you can see that biometric authentication and verification is integral to the modern technology landscape and is widespread in more ways than modern users of it fully understand.

How do Biometrics Work For Authentication?

Metrics sometimes include the comparison of data sets in order to identify patterns and trends. Biometrics accomplishes the same objective by comparing a biological data set of “something a person has” with “something they are” – a phrase frequently used by identity specialists when discussing the “lock and key” and token approaches to user identification and authentication in current password systems.

Here’s how a basic biometric system works:

1. Biometric software like “face recognition” captures the biological input that a user provides (in this case, a face)

2. The software measures the capture to create a baseline data point template or the “lock” that will be the determining data point for future uses

3. The biometric characteristics that are measured and captured are converted and stored as data in internal hardware on the device used, or on a cloud platform during the enrollment phase

4. From there, biometric sensors compare any new inputs as a potential “key” to the previously derived string of data in the “lock.” Only the matching biometrics, whether its physiological or behavioral characteristics, provided will confirm a person’s identity and unlock the service or account

The biometric template, or the “lock” as we’re calling it here, isn’t the whole image but rather a code that’s generated describing the biometric features of the “lock” image within the context of the specific biometric technology. If a person were to look at the data of a fingerprint someone provided in the template “lock” after they scanned their finger to their phone, it would show a sequence of code instead of a zoomed-in picture of your finger’s prints.

After enrollment and storage, any time a biometric input is scanned into a system as a “key” to unlock access, the biometric is compared to and measured by the data that’s described in the template “lock.” If the biometric key matches, the door is unlocked. If the biometric key doesn’t fit, the user is denied.

One of the main advantages of biometric authentication is that the “locks” or templates aren’t whole images of the entire biometric data a user provides. For example, if a hacker was able to break into a database of biometric “locks,” they wouldn’t suddenly have access to sensitive images of people’s biometrics, nor have the ability to suddenly unlock all of their services that use biometrics with their “key” since they don’t physically contain the biometric characteristics or traits.

A large part of why biometrics allow a high level of security is that current commercial technology prevents biometric characteristics from being re-engineered digitally for nefarious purposes. You have to have a real, physical fingerprint to be able to use and be approved by a fingerprint scanner. However, the speed of technological changes means it’s a matter of “when” not “if” technology is created to replicate biometric characteristics.

Most experts would agree that an ideal biometric system should require a live biometric to be presented every time for access. In addition, biometric identification solutions shouldn’t be the only thing that a ‘lock’ asks for as the ‘key’; a multi-factor authentication system that blends biometric characteristics like fingerprint readers in combo with voice recognition among other more traditional items like 2FA or passwords would provide optimal security.

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