Biometric Technology: A Brief History

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Technology has truly been a gift to many. It has connected people, made transactions easier and hassle-free. Fundamentally, it has made life more convenient. However, this convenience has also come with a price. With almost everything going digital, people have been more susceptible to crimes such as hacking and scamming. Countless internet fraud and data breaches have been reported, and over 80%  of those have a root cause related to passwords.

Passwords are known to be the oldest and most commonly used verification method. And over the past years, many developers have tried improving password protocols. Thus, creating multi-factor authentication wherein a user can link their password to their email accounts or mobile numbers.

Although multi-factor authentication has contributed to improving the security of passwords, criminals have still found a way to penetrate its systems. If a hacker has gained access to your email, they will have control over your accounts. The same goes with using your mobile numbers. They can easily execute a SIM swap scam once they get ahold of your number.

With all that being said, you might be wondering if there is any way to have a safer and more secure way of logging in to your accounts. Well, there is, and that is biometrics.

As years progressed, the development of biometrics technology continued to advance and became more inclusive to the other government agencies. Soon after, biometric science was finally introduced to the public when Apple launched their iPhone 5 with a Touch ID feature. From then on, other brands of smartphones have followed this lead. And now, almost every smartphone user has access to biometric technology.

The continuous advancements in biometric technology have allowed it to skyrocket and be utilized not only by the government or unlocking your mobile devices. These days, biometrics are even used for accessing bank accounts, transacting online, and even digital signature API.

FIDO2

FIDO2 powered these possibilities. FIDO2 is a project between FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium. The goal of this project is to create a strong authentication for the web by cryptographic login credentials. Compared to passwords, this newly developed authentication method is way more secure, safe, and seamless.

The use of biometrics to access devices and authenticate login to accounts has been rising in popularity in this modern era. Biometrics is the measurement of a person’s inherent characteristics (biometric), such as facial features, voice patterns, fingerprints, iris patterns, keystroke dynamics, and signature dynamics, that can be used to identify them.

Biology-based authentication technology has come a long way since the 1960s. Its evolution started in 1960 when scientists began identifying the physiological characteristics of acoustic speech and phonic sounds. This enabled the development of modern voice recognition technology.

Eventually, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pushed for automated fingerprint identification. Then, by 1975, the agency funded the first scanners to extract minutiae points. As digital storage costs were prohibitive during this time, the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) worked on compressions and algorithms, developing the first operational matching algorithm used at the FBI.

Biometric science took off by the 1990s. More organizations and agencies funded research and development of biometric technology. Soon after, it became available for commercial consumption. Biometric technology was used to strengthen security protocol at ports of entry and exit and facilitate travel for millions of travelers and visa applicants, among other applications.

By 2010, biometric technology became available for public consumption as well. Mobile phone companies integrated biometric fingerprint scanners into their products to enable their users to secure their devices. Years later, biometric authentication was also employed on digital platforms.

Many businesses invest in strong customer authentication solutions to strengthen their cybersecurity systems while providing seamless authentication methods to their customers accessing their online platforms.

FIDO2-compliant authentication solutions can ensure stronger authentication protocols for a business’s system. The FIDO 2.0 standard utilizes a combination of knowledge-based authentication factors (password, PIN code, swipe pattern), possession factors (cards, badges, on-device cryptographic keys), and inherence factors (facial biometrics or fingerprint).

At present, biometric technology is being utilized in almost all systems and networks. And because this technology is already secure and the available biology-based scanners and sensors are at near-zero error rates, it is expected to stay in the mainstream for the next decades.

Biometric authentication technology has played an important role in cybersecurity, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020. There was a surge in access to remote services as it enabled people to acquire products and services while keeping themselves safe from getting infected with the virus.

About PSD2

While the use of biometric authentication methods increased during the pandemic, it is already being utilized in previous years. In fact, various regulations, including Payment Services Directive Two (PSD2), were legislated to mandate stronger security requirements for processing online transactions.

PSD2 strong customer authentication leverages multi-factor authentication (MFA), which combines authentication factors such as:

  • possession factors (something the user has like badges, cards, on-device cryptographic keys);
  • knowledge factors (something the user knows like a password, PIN code, and pattern codes); and,
  • inherence factors (something the user is like facial biometrics or fingerprint).

Many enterprises invest in identity proofing solutions from companies with FIDO2 certification to ensure compliance with PSD2 and other regulations. Fast Identity Online or FIDO 2.0 authentication solutions allow business entities to employ stronger cybersecurity protocols in their networks and also enable them to integrate biometric authentication into their digital platforms.

Furthermore, biometrics experts predict that this technology will continue to revolutionize, enabling businesses and consumers to have more authentication method options in the future and to say goodbye to passwords.

The future of biometric authentication still has a long way to go. But it is undoubtedly one of the best solutions at the moment to make passwordless login more efficient. There are also more things that you need to know about this technology, and if you are curious, you can read further this infographic created by LoginID.

Biometric Technology - Infographic ImageJDOAJW514