Importance of Biometrics in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity refers to safeguarding the systems, networks, and applications against digital attacks intended to gain access to, alter, or delete sensitive data, extort money from users, or disrupt business operations. Biometrics is derived from the Greek terms “Bio” for “Life” and “Metric” for “Measure.” It is a widely used component in cybersecurity because it offers the most effective and reliable way to identify an individual based on physical traits (e.g., face, fingerprints, iris, retina) and behaviors (e.g., signatures, poses). While technology makes things simpler, it also presents new flaws and difficulties, mainly because cybercriminals continuously evolve their attack patterns. As a result, security has become a primary concern for enterprises across the globe. Introducing biometrics in cybersecurity offers the most effective, reliable & secure way to identify an individual based on their physical traits & behaviors.
Biometrics: What Does History Say?
Image: History of Biometrics
Image source: https://recfaces.com/articles/history-of-biometrics
Biometrics is not a new concept; it dates back to the 14th Century when the Chinese invented fingerprinting to recognize merchants, their offspring, and others.
In the nineteenth century, scientist Alphonse Bertillon devised a method, i.e., body measurements.
In 1935, Isadore Goldstein and Carleton Simon proposed the concept of retinal identification.
In 1971, the first paper on facial recognition was published.
At Cambridge University, John Daugman created the first effective Iris identification system in 1993.
In 2001, the Biometrics Automated Toolset (BAT) was established to provide specific identification.
Types of Biometric Identifications used in Cybersecurity
Physiological and Behavioural Biometric Identification are the two primary forms of Biometric Identification. They both comprise the following features to identify the person being authenticated.
Physiological Biometric Identification in Cybersecurity
- Facial Recognition
- Vein Recognition
- Iris Recognition
- Voice Recognition
- Retina Scanning
- DNA Matching
- Digital Signatures
Behavioral Biometric Identification in Cybersecurity
- Unique behavior patterns such as typing patterns, mouse motions, website, social media engagement patterns, walking pace, and other gestures.
- Instead of a single, one-time authentication check, behavioral identifiers can be utilized to provide continuous authentication.
Importance of Biometrics in Cybersecurity
Biometric authentication was deemed “effective” or “very effective” for safeguarding on-premises data by 92% of businesses and “effective” for protecting data on the public cloud by 86%. Based on a poll conducted by Spiceworks last year, 62 percent of companies are currently employing biometric authentication, with another 24 percent planning to do so in the next two years.
Unauthorized individuals mustn’t acquire access to sensitive data and frameworks in corporate organizations. It should be ensured that sensitive documents are only accessible by authorized representatives and that work process rules are appropriately followed due to integrity standards. Passwords aren’t appropriate for sensitive data since peers may share them; businesses may use biometrics to restrict access to all critical assets owned by the company.
According to analysts, firms that adopt biometric security frameworks may profit from a high accuracy and unparalleled data protection. When fingerprints, retinal outputs, and iris designs are appropriately collected, unique data sets emerge, leading to authentic transactions.
Biometrics is impossible to lose, steal, or forget and eliminates the need to recall passwords or PINs, resulting in cost savings.
Biometrics in Cybersecurity
Traditional Security Systems: Passwords, PINs, Secret codes, and other techniques of safeguarding digital data have been employed since the dawn of electronic computing come under the traditional methods. Traditional authentication techniques include:
- Providing credentials.
- Signing in by SMS.
- Utilizing an email-based token has been around for a long time and is still widespread today.
These aren’t the same as biometric access control systems, yet we’re all familiar with them.
Limitations with Traditional Security Systems: Passwords no longer give users the security or protection they require. The dark web enables access to user credentials with each new cyberattack. As a result, cybercriminals might use them for fraudulent activities and unauthorized access. Furthermore, traditional data security procedures are outdated with ever-evolving cyber-attacks and changing trends.
Advantages over Traditional Security Systems
Biometrics detect the ideal person and maintain track of who acted. In addition, biometric security frameworks are more secure than traditional ones because they include finger impression, face identification, and secret key check.
Since biometric data is non-transferable, memorable, distinctive, and unique, it is safe and secure to use for authentication and identification. The biological characteristics of individuals are employed for biometric verification. Based on the biometric data saved during authentication, it confirms a person’s identity and credentials.
Increased Emphasis on Multilayer Cybersecurity Strategies
This technique would significantly improve cybersecurity infrastructure and put-up remote access to systems more difficult for hackers who still need biometric scans to break into a network, even if they have passwords.
Following the SolarWinds attack in December 2020, it’s unsurprising that businesses are hyper-aware of their security. The SolarWinds attack was a ‘supply chain’ hack rather than a direct attack on computers and was inserted in code during the software development process.
Due to the apparent combination of traditional and sophisticated penetration techniques, no single cybersecurity approach would be sufficient to stop it. Instead, there are multiple tiers of protection, such as the Zero-trust Model, which requires a login or identity assurance for every level of access, and Multifactor authentication to gain access.
A serious threat actor will do everything to access the target system. Therefore, while biometrics security is a step in the right direction, it should be used in conjunction with additional security measures rather than as a stand-alone measure.
Biometric Authentication Trends Projected for 2022
While many businesses have begun to include biometrics into their cyber security initiatives, the comprehensive scope of implementation is still evolving. Here we list down the key 2022 trends to be aware of.
Consistent Biometric Security improvement is an absolute necessity: Even though biometric validation is safer than traditional passwords, hackers are always looking for new ways to breach biometric verification frameworks. As a result, organizations must constantly improve security checks to keep up with emerging threats. Mastercard’s Identity Check Mobile (also known as “Selfie Pay”) is an excellent example of why continuous improvement is critical. As per several research reports, an individual may fool the internet-based installment by snapping a picture in the Mastercard app, which employs facial recognition technology to verify their identity. Mastercard figured out that by just putting up a static snapshot of someone’s face, they could get around this process. As a result, the company took further measures and began asking clients to flicker to confirm that the face in the casing was indeed theirs. That minor adjustment made it undeniably more difficult to deceive the authentication process.
Biometric Data Regulations Are Tightening: Biometric authentication is still a young technology, and current rules are still developing. Despite this, due to the sensitive (and permanent) nature of biometric data, several regulators are rushing to establish legislation on how it is gathered and handled. In 2008, Illinois passed the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which grants users a “property interest” in the algorithms used to establish their digital identities. On the other hand, the Illinois Supreme Court took a step further in 2019 by ruling that private firms can no longer collect biometric data from individuals without their consent. It includes fingerprints, iris scans, and face scans (probably because there have already been over 100 lawsuits filed alleging violations of this law).
Biometric Authentication is the Future
As per a study conducted by Visa, 86% of purchasers must validate their identity using biometrics rather than traditional passwords. Furthermore, while biometric validation is unquestionably safer than relying just on passwords, it is far from impenetrable. As a result, enterprises must stay on top to ensure adequate cyber security is rolled out.
Many security experts predict biometrics to be increasingly incorporated into continuous authentication procedures as the zero-trust concept becomes the norm across the cybersecurity sector.
In a nutshell, traditional security frameworks and biometric security frameworks co-exist. Still, biometrics, on the other hand, is rapidly replacing traditional security by incorporating an individual’s natural characteristics into the authentication process.
As a result, all financial and non-financial foundations have been using a combination of traditional authentication and biometrics to offer their users secure access to network resources.
Trainee Security Consultant,
Varutra Consulting Pvt Ltd.