How Biometrics Works Nowadays

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12 / 05 / 2015

How Biometrics Works Nowadays

What pops up in your mind when you hear the word “biometrics”? Who uses it and why it is still a bad alternative to passwords?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “biometrics”? The first and most obvious is voice and fingerprints recognition. All these tools are widely used by banks, airports and military. But the biometric technologies are now far more common in everyday life than you could imagine.

Each person has a set of unique traits that form the basis for biometric identifiers. These traits include facial features, voice, iris, fingerprints, DNA and a lot of others. These identifiers are already the regular things in consumer technology. Biometrics is used both for identification and verification.

As a verification tool Apple has already been using biometrics for several years: iPads and iPhones already come with Touch ID which offers fingerprint as an alternative to a password.

By the way, did you know that one of the largest facial recognition database belongs not to the US government but to Facebook? Since 2010 Facebook has tagged friends in photos using biometric technologies. One more company that is an adept at biometrics is PayPal. PayPal cooperates with Samsung using fingerprint recognition and allowing Samsung owners to make payments on its site.  

Though everything has its weak point. Have you wondered why biometrics still is not a good alternative to passwords? According to Gregg Stefancik, chief of security infrastructure at Facebook, there were many researches that showed biometrics could be easily spoofed. Make a little research by yourself and you may find dozens of examples of how to make fake fingerprints and iris image.   

However, neither passwords nor biometrics is a panacea from digital threats. They all have failed for some people and still are risky. Moreover biometric information is irrevocable - you are free to change your password but cannot change your voice.  

Nonetheless consumer electronics is gradually becoming more focused on biometric technologies and still can use it as an additional security layer.