Biometric Authentication: Why Do Your Applications Need It in 2022?

Biometric authentication provides better data security and user experience for users. Learn more about the different biometric authentication methods.

 min. read
Published on
February 7, 2022

Biometric authentication is different from the traditional username-password authentication since it involves verifying a user’s identity using some of the characteristics that are unique to them. When users attempt to log in or have access to applications or systems, the system will compare their biometric signatures with the ones stored in the database to make sure that they are the ones with access to the applications or systems. 

However, if the good old username-password authentication has been the dominant method of authentication, why would we need biometric authentication?

In this blog post, you will learn more about:

What is biometric authentication?

Very often, biometrics protect other authentication information, such as a digital certificate or private key, and the protected information is what’s actually used to verify the user. Biometric authentication, in a nutshell, is the process where a system will compare the biometric data stored in the database with users’ submitted physiological or behavioral characteristics to verify their identity and grant access to the applications or systems

The uniqueness of some physiological or behavioral characteristics allow researchers to come up with several biometric technologies that have become part of our everyday life. Industries have deployed these biometric technologies to make sure only the right personnels or users will have access to private or confidential data. 

Why should my applications or websites offer biometric authentication?

User Experience and Preference

Compared to the good old username-password authentication, biometric authentication is certainly faster for the users. Instead of entering their usernames and passwords, which sometimes can be easily forgotten, users simply have to press on the fingerprint scanner or look into the cameras on their mobile phones to unlock them. 

To learn more about consumers’ authentication preferences, VISA conducted a survey among 1,000 Americans and found that:

  • 86% of them are interested in using biometric authentication.
  • 70% of them think that biometric authentication is easier but only 46% of them think that it’s more secure than passwords.

Even though less than half of the respondents think that biometric authentication is the more secure method, the majority still thinks that it’s the easier way to get authenticated. Gradually, as consumers have more faith in biometric authentication, developers will inevitably need to offer biometric authentication to improve the user experience on their applications or websites. 

Data Security

Although it is still far from being impenetrable, biometric authentication is still more secure than the username-password authentication in several ways.

  1. Users will never forget about their passwords since they are the passwords.
  2. Users’ unique biometric data is harder for hackers to replicate.
  3. According to Gartner, what makes biometric authentication more secure is not only the uniqueness of users’ characteristics but also the “difficulty to impersonate the living person presenting the trait to a sensor.” 

Although it only took 48 hours for hackers to hack Touch ID when it was introduced with iPhone 5S in 2013, biometric authentication has become much more secure now compared to passwords or PINs, which are most likely saved in sticky notes or some documents that are quite vulnerable to hackers. 

There are still some areas of improvement, such as accuracy, costs, and software vulnerability, for biometric authentication, but it is evident that biometric authentication has become more popular than the traditional methods. 

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What are the types of biometric authentication?

Fingerprint recognition

Everyone’s fingerprints are unique. Not even identical twins share the same fingerprints, making them the perfect biometric identifier for authentication. Fingerprint recognition uses a person’s fingerprint to verify the identity and is certainly one the most widespread biometric authentication technologies due to the ubiquity of mobile devices.

Face Recognition

Face recognition was spotted in a lot of films and is now widely deployed in several industries, such as law enforcement, financial services, and more. It mainly analyzes the geometry of the face or facial anatomy to identify users. Based on your data, the system will create an encrypted digital model that will be used as a reference when the user tries to get authenticated. 

Eye Recognition

Ever seen one of those films where the protagonists have to access a secret facility by looking into a tiny piece of equipment that scans their eyeballs? That’s a perfect example of eye recognition. 

There are actually two types of eye recognition, namely iris and retina recognition. An iris scanner uses infrared light to analyze the colored rings found in the iris while a retina scan checks for the unique pattern of blood vessels in the eye. 

Although it has been popularized in all sorts of media, it is quite expensive to implement and therefore is not as popular as face or fingerprint recognition. 

Voice recognition

Voice recognition analyzes the different parts, such as tone, pitch, and frequency, of a user’s voice to check their identity. Nowadays, assistants on mobile devices are programmed to only respond to users whose voices have been matched in the settings. 

There are still other physiological and behavioral characteristics, such as vein patterns and gait, that can be used to authenticate users; however, they are not as common as the aforementioned methods. 

How do I offer biometric authentication in my applications or websites?

Developing an authentication system to provide all kinds of authentication methods in your applications or websites can be a lot of work. Outsourcing your auth system can actually speed up your development process, reduce risks of data breach, and allow your developers to focus on their core tasks. 

Authgear provides all features needed for your applications such as passwordless & biometrics, SSO & social login, password policy management, two-factor authentication, etc. In order to enable biometric authentication for your app, you simply have to enable it in your portal and also follow the steps in our documentation to enable biometric login in mobile SDK.  

If you are looking for an authentication solution, you can contact us and learn more about how you can benefit from Authgear.