According to research, 50% of people say they do five password resets per month, while 57% admitted they forget the new password immediately after the reset. Since passwords are easy to forget and tend to be prone to brute force attacks, users are slowly embracing new, more secure authentication methods. One of the fastest-growing authentication methods is certainly biometrics.
ExpressVPN’s summary defined biometrics as unique physical and behavioral traits commonly used for authentication and identifying individuals. Some of the most common types of biometrics include DNA, fingerprints, voice and facial recognition, and eye biometrics.
Even though biometrics is becoming increasingly popular and has been used for many purposes, can we expect it to take over the authentication field and push passwords off the throne?
Let’s see the pros and cons of implementing biometric technology into our daily lives.
Pros of Biometric Authentication
- Biometrics are convenient and fast
Unlocking your phone with a fingerprint takes only a few seconds, while typing in a password usually takes more time, especially if you’ve made a few mistakes. Also, its convenience and the ability to authenticate large numbers of individuals in a short time make biometrics an excellent authentication method for places with a large circulation of people like airports and border ports.
- They’re hard to steal
According to a CloudNine research, 81% of all data breaches arise from stolen or weak passwords. Biometrics are more challenging to steal than standard passwords, and new biometric technology is even more advanced since it’s based on the “liveness factor.” In a nutshell, fingerprint technology has scanners that go deep below the skin’s surface to determine if there is a living tissue beneath the skin. Similarly, a retina scan relies on the blood flow in the retina. Therefore, even if someone obtains your fingerprints, there’s a slight chance they could use them to deceive biometric scanners.
- Biometrics provide higher levels of authenticity
Since biometric technology relies on a significant number of identifiers unique to every person, it’s challenging to replicate them and trick complex algorithms responsible for comparing the samples. Unlike passwords and PINs, biometric information is linked to solely one individual, which can’t be transferred and changed.
Cons of Biometric Authentication
- Biometrics can be compromised
Even though they can authenticate an individual with much higher precision than other authentication techniques, biometrics can still be compromised. Its greatest drawback is that once it’s compromised, there’s not much you can do about it. People can’t change their biometrics when an untrusted party gets access to it like they would with passwords.
- They can be biased
Studies showed that biometrics, especially facial recognition, can be biased against minority groups, people of color, and women. Unfortunately, these biases are deeply rooted in algorithmic profiles, and it will take time and effort to eliminate them out of the system.
- They can contribute to the decreased sense of privacy
Even though biometrics may seem like a more convenient option, be careful what you wish for. With the number of surveillance cameras in our cities growing each day, governmental organizations can track our every move. Similarly, tech companies can access biometric data stored in our devices and use them for various purposes that we did not give explicit consent to.
Tips for Securing Your Data
Use a multi-factor authentication
Since neither authentication technique is a hundred percent safe, use them together to better protect your accounts. Multi-factor authentication uses several authentication methods to keep your account safe even if one layer of protection has been broken. For instance, try combining a password with your fingerprint or a face scan and token.
Be careful whom you trust
Considering that compromised biometrics is a point of no return, be extremely careful with whom you share your data. Research companies and organizations that ask for your biometric information, and try opting out and providing an alternative authentication method whenever possible.
As they say, old habits die hard. Therefore, we probably aren’t getting rid of our passwords any time soon, regardless of how convenient and advanced biometric technology is. Therefore, stay informed and make sure to never use only one authentication method for accessing your accounts.