Advantages and Disadvantages of Biometrics Switches
In the year 1883, French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon became a pioneer in using body measurements to identify serial offenders. Since then, biometrics have become a staple in identity verification. Biometrics consist of human features, behaviours, and characteristics that can be measured to confirm a person’s identity. For instance, face or fingerprints are unique, measurable features for any person. Therefore, they can be effective identifiers for perpetrators in matters of law enforcement.
Today, however, biometric verification has not remained confined to the arena of law enforcement alone. It is becoming increasingly popular across industries because of the efficiency with which biometrics can enable control access to devices, real-time locations, and sensitive information.
Biometrics, however, are far from being completely secure. They may entail several privacy risks. Therefore, any institution pondering the installation of biometric identification systems for the verification of employees should be well-informed to prevent possible data breaches.
Read on to know everything about biometrics and biometric identification pros and cons.
How do Biometrics Function?
Basic biometrics data verification is a two-step process. You need to devise a way to map the required bodily feature of the persons you wish to verify. You also need to have an existing record of the feature for comparison of measurements collected.
Most biometrics systems are automated in present times. This automation typically follows a three-layered mechanism:
- An electronic device or biometrics scanner is used to read the feature being mapped to authenticate a person’s identity
- There is a stored record of the feature for comparison
- There is software to process the data received and compare it with existing records
What are the Different Types of Biometrics?
While most bodily features are measurable, not every biometric feature can or should be measured to authenticate identity. Some characteristics are decidedly more unique than others, and the measurement of some traits poses a greater degree of difficulty.
Some of the most commonly used biometrics today are as follows:
- Fingerprint Sensors: Anyone who uses a smartphone will know of this feature. The patterns found on our fingers are unique to each of us and are often used to verify our identities.
- Hand Geometry Sensors: While not very accurate, hand geometry has been used to verify identity since the 1960s. This is because when enough data is collected, hand geometry can be a distinguishing feature from person to person.
- Face Recognition: Research has shown that the facial features of every individual are unique when data is gathered in great detail. Therefore, facial recognition biometric devices can be used to verify identity. However, such software is still being perfected and not always accurate, especially for people with darker skin tones.
- Voice Recognition: Voice recognition systems are far more accurate than facial recognition systems. A person’s voice is their unique feature and can be used to authenticate identity.
- Ear Biometrics: Studies show that ear recognition technology can be even more accurate than fingerprint recognition. This is because each person has a uniquely shaped ear which can be identified by biometric systems.
- Retina and Iris Biometrics: The unique patterns on an individual’s retina can help identify them. So can the patterns on an iris. Both iris and retinal scans have attested to very high levels of accuracy.
- Gait and Behavioural Biometrics: A person’s gait is the way in which they walk. This can be used to identify them, although this is still a developing technology. Behavioural biometrics make use of behavioural traits like typing patterns and a person’s physical location to verify their identities.
- DNA Biometrics: Only about 0.1% of our DNA is unique to us. However, this is enough to ascertain our identities with quite a high level of accuracy.
- Vein Recognition Technology: Also called Vascular Biometrics, vein recognition technology uses vein patterns under the skin to authenticate a person’s identity. This is the most accurate form of identity authentication available today. However, even this technology has proved to be susceptible to attack.
Where is Biometric Data Stored?
Biometrics systems can follow either a centralised or decentralised mode of data storage. More simply, the data collected by the software can either be stored on a central server or on the biometric device itself. The latter is the safer method because if the central database is ever hacked, then tons of highly sensitive biometric data may be available to the hackers. This could compromise people for life since biometric data is impossible to reconfigure.
Device-level storage of biometric data is not completely safe either but it at least allows for the distribution of biometric data across devices. This safeguards against the risk of massive quantities of data theft all at once.
Where are Biometrics Switches Commonly Used?
- Laptops, tablets, and smartphones that use fingerprint, voice, or facial recognition technology to unlock.
- Institutions or organisations to track when employees are logging in and out.
- Behavioural biometrics are increasingly used in the finance sector to prevent identity scams and theft.
- Biometrics are also often used in medical institutions for access to past medical records.
- They have become a staple in legal departments to ascertain the identity of perpetrators.
- The Immigrations and Customs departments of various countries also collect biometrics data for safety and security reasons.
- Customer services are now often making use of voice recognition technology to provide customised services to their clients.
What are the Advantages of Biometrics Switches?
The fact that most institutions, organisations, and even individual homes opt for biometrics switches today goes to prove that this technology has some very clear advantages. Some of the benefits of biometric authentication are—
- Effective Identity Authentication: Biometric characteristics like fingerprints, retinas, or ears are more difficult to copy, fake, or transfer than conventional User Id/passcode verification. Therefore, they permit more effective ways of authentication.
- Better Security: Since features unique to a person’s body cannot easily be replicated or transferred, identification through biometrics devices and switches is phenomenally more secure than Id/password identity authentication.
- Better User Experience: Users often forget usernames and passwords. Finger scanning or other modes of biometrics identification can be completed simply by a switch mechanism. This makes identity authentication hassle-free, less time-consuming, and a more user-friendly experience.
- Cost Effective: Biometrics switches and devices also benefit institutions as they consume less server space than conventional identity verification measures. Further, they preclude the need for frequent password resets for security purposes. As such, they are much more cost-effective for organisations than traditional authentication.
Are there any Disadvantages of Biometrics Technology?
Any technology entails both advantages and disadvantages. While biometrics switches boast many advantages, there are certain problems with biometrics that organisations and users should know about.
- Expensive to Install: While devices like fingerprint scanners come at fairly economical prices these days, costs for biometrics switches are quite high if an organization wishes to install more accurate technology for identity verification. This is one of the principal disadvantages of biometrics.
- Not 100% Secure: While companies dealing in biometrics switches, devices, and software take special pains to ensure the security of this technology, there have been known instances of data breaches. Thus, while biometrics systems redress many existing security risks of traditional identity authentication systems, they themselves are not completely secure from attack.
- Inhibits User Privacy: With the burgeoning of biometrics technology and the ubiquity of biometrics switches, large amounts of highly sensitive data are being collected by multiple organizations. This has often raised concerns about the possibility of surveillance and breach of user privacy.
How can Biometrics Technology be Refined for the Future?
It is quite evident that biometrics technology is here to stay. In the face of the increasing global popularity of this technology, companies dealing in biometrics switches and software need to keep certain things in consideration.
- The security features of this technology must constantly be surveyed and optimised in a continuous effort to minimize the possibility of security breaches.
- New regulations and policies must be framed surrounding the use of biometrics technology to address the issue of user privacy.
- There must be clear frameworks and guidelines on how, where, and how much biometrics data is meant to be stored and accessed.
- Analysts have assumed that the use of biometrics in continuous authentication applications will become more popular. Continuous authentication systems perform verifications on a rolling basis when a facility or system is being used rather than just once in the beginning.
Explore the World of Biometrics Switches with Schneider Electric eShop
Biometrics is the technology of the future. The advantages of this technology far outstrip its disadvantages. This is why most institutions and even homeowners are opting for biometrics security. If you wish to begin your journey into the world of biometrics, there is no better place than the Schneider Electric eShop. Schneider Electric has been a reliable name in the market for electrical goods for generations.