What is biometric authentication, its benefits and risks?

Biometric authentication is a process of verifying the identity of a user based on their physical or behavioural characteristics. This can be done through fingerprint, iris, voice, or facial recognition.

Fingerprints, retinas, ears, hands, or faces of a person are biometric authentication. It is one of the best authentication solutions and is accepted by almost every government and company. However, it is not 100% secure. It is very easy for the data to be stolen. There is always a potential threat for people to try to commit fraud. The authentication data are easily stored for long periods and transferred to remote servers, which means other third parties can get hold of the data.

biometric authentication

Types of Biometric Authentication

The most widely-used biometric modalities are fingerprints and face recognition. While neither of these technologies is 100% accurate, face recognition is much more accurate than fingerprints and is rapidly becoming the most popular biometric authentication method. When it comes to face recognition, there are three types: active, passive, and hybrid.

With active face recognition, the subject of the authentication is required to move their face and express a specific emotion actively; this is usually used for access control, while in passive face recognition, the subject is not required to move their face actively or to be present to verify their identity. Passive face recognition is the most common way of using face recognition.

Passive face recognition has several benefits over active face recognition; it doesn’t require the subject to perform extra movements, the security is higher, and a potential perpetrator will have to look at a subject’s face for a longer time before they can see enough to deceive them. It’s important to note that passive face recognition doesn’t guarantee any authentication; the user still has to provide some kind of identifier for verification, such as a name or a passphrase.

What is a typical scenario where biometric authentication is used?

Biometric authentication is generally used in two scenarios.

Biometric identification or verification. This is the process of verifying whether a person is the correct one based on the authentication data. It is generally used to confirm that the person using the authentication method is who they say they are. A secure authentication session could be initiated to protect a database or a server.

Authentication. This is when the person using the authentication method can perform a transaction. Authentication is used for an entire transaction. There are a lot of applications for authentication. For example, it is used to secure financial transactions, e-commerce, authentication to access online content and more.

Benefits of Biometric Authentication

The need for secure authentication methods becomes more pressing as the world becomes increasingly digitised. One such method is biometric authentication, which uses physical or behavioural characteristics to identify individuals. This type of authentication is considered more secure than passwords or other traditional methods, as it is difficult to replicate biometric data.

Secondly, it is much faster and more convenient than traditional methods, as users do not need to remember passwords or PINs. Thirdly, biometric authentication can be used for various purposes, such as unlocking devices, logging into websites, or making payments.

Additionally, biometric data is typically stored in a secure database, increasing the system’s security. While there are some potential drawbacks to using biometrics (such as the risk of identity theft), this type of authentication is considered very secure overall.

The Risks of Biometric Authentication

The lack of confidentiality in biometric authentication is a major drawback. Only at first glance do they appear secure, but this does not make them safer than passwords. Eyes, fingerprints, and the face are all used for biometric authentication since they are readily available. If fingerprints are used for identification, they will be left behind at every location the person visits.

Regarding voice recognition, it’s simple to record a suitable voice and get entry. Simply put, these identifiers are more readily available for biometric authentication. Each system visited has its own copy of the authenticating image, so the image is spread out among many different databases. Users can access these identifiers with minimal effort by breaking into a central database.

If biometric data is stolen, it can be used to impersonate users and gain access to their accounts. Secondly, biometric data is often stored on central databases, which makes it a target for hackers. Finally, biometric authentication can be bypassed if the attacker can access the user’s device or trick the user into revealing their biometrics.

Since an individual’s characteristics are static, biometric authentication is said to have a much higher security profile than any traditional username and password combination. However, when using biometric authentication, the user’s unique personal characteristics and environment authenticate their identity. As the environment changes over time, a single biometric token might work at one point but fail later.

How can someone fake biometric data?

There is always a risk that someone might try to use fake data for identification. Faking of the authentication data could be intentional. For example, if someone wants to commit identity fraud by using fake data for authentication. The risk of such fraud is that they can access the target system, bypass passwords and other security measures, and steal a real person’s information.


When it comes to protecting sensitive data, biometric authentication is now the standard and looks set to become the future. In order to verify that a person is who they claim to be, biometric authentication uses identifying information about the person’s unique biological traits. Captured biometric data is compared to verified, valid data stored in a database by biometric authentication systems. The need for memorizing complex passwords is eliminated with biometric authentication.

The privacy and integrity of the gathered data remain the major ethical challenges, despite the fact that biometric authentication has several appealing features, as stated above. Even more sensitive biometric data is often obtained but poorly stored.

Biometric authentication isn’t without challenges. Technology is still fairly new and often misunderstood. It’s also been at the centre of privacy and data protection debates. Additionally, the development of the technology in healthcare and the IoT raises additional questions about its applicability to clinical, personal or medical settings. It also remains to be seen how enterprises embrace technology. Some businesses utilize the technology on a pilot basis, while others don’t.

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Raj Maurya

Raj Maurya is the founder of Digital Gyan. He is a technical content writer on Fiverr and When not working, he plays Valorant.

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