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BIO-key Blog

Read below for news, insights, and discussion on identity and access management.

Ask Christopher: Alternative Biometric MFA Options

by Christopher Perry

In many ways, the upcoming summer signifies a huge step forward for everyone. We are halfway out of the dark side of a global pandemic, and each one of us has honed skills both new and old. Many individuals have taken this dark time and made it even darker by attacking those who are already struggling to find a sense of normalcy. Balancing the physical world and the digital one is no longer a nicety, but rather a necessity. With hackers showing no signs of slowing down, individuals and corporations alike need a comfortable mechanism to secure their digital identities. Biometric authentication offers a solid foundation, with fingerprint readers being one of the most common solutions.

As is often the case, however, the most common path does not always work for the individual. This leads to many questions of what alternative Biometrics may be available to solve this age-old problem of identity protection.

The Question:

“What Biometric MFA methods are available to me aside from fingerprint readers?”

The Answer:

Both voice and palm biometrics are supported within the latest version of PortalGuard.

Why Biometrics?

Biometric authentication has long been heralded as the epitome of best practices for authentication security. The why of the matter stems from the core understanding behind the concept: a person can be accurately and uniquely identified by individual physical and/or behavioral traits. Simply put: nobody else is you.

In practice, implementing and validating biometrics is not always easy. Over the years, biometrics has become a staple in the authentication sphere, and the technology has seen numerous leaps and innovations to become even more accessible to the everyday consumer. These days, biometrics act as an alternative to the ever-dreaded password, as well as a secondary factor for ensuring the right people are accessing privileged resources.

Fingerprint readers are the most common form of biometrics in the consumer-facing market today. From cellphones to shared kiosks, fingerprint biometrics have been around long enough to see both sides of the usability spectrum. For many users, the idea of using a separate device – even in a ‘shared’ environment – is simply too much. Luckily, multiple consumer-friendly biometrics options are available to choose from.

Voice Biometrics – What Gives?

Though not quite as common as fingerprint biometrics, voice biometrics (or voice print) are another common method of utilizing a unique, personal characteristic for stronger authentication. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, most people will recognize the idea of using a voice phrase for authentication from the many appearances this method makes in popular films and television.

Voice biometrics capitalize on the idea that each voice is unique. Mimicry aside, even recordings distort a voiceprint enough to be recognizable as a biometric difference and that is the key. This method also had the benefit of requiring little more than a microphone.

Oftentimes, however, users will balk at this method due to its similarity to password-based authentication: put simply, voice biometrics still require the use of a ‘passphrase’ of sorts. This method just requires it to be spoken!

PalmPositiveTM – New and Improved Mobile Integration

Have you ever heard the phrase “New is always better”? That might not always be true, but the latest leap in biometric authentication has pulled consumer biometrics farther along than any of those that have come before.

PalmPositiveTM is a new method of utilizing biometrics without any risk to individual identity. This method utilizes a scan of the user’s palm to generate a truly unique identifier for secure authentication. Fingerprint readers and voice biometrics suffer from a real – albeit slight – risk of being hoodwinked from a high-quality replica. PalmPositiveTM takes a scan of the palm as well as the underlying physical architecture of the hand to generate a unique signature for the user. This depth of integrity cannot be fooled by a mere picture, no matter how stunning the quality.

Additionally, other biometric options require the use of either third-party software or additional hardware. The cost of implementing these methods for environments of varying sizes can be far outside the scope of realistic possibility. Such limitations often prove the deciding factor preventing the implementation of truly secure authentication, leaving organizations at the mercy of hackers and other ne’er-do-wells. PalmPositiveTM combines with BIO-Key MobileAuth application to utilize existing devices for implementing this latest Biometric innovation.

Looking Forward to a Secure Future

Where authentication is concerned, a battle is always being waged between usability and security. Biometric authentication has often been viewed as leaning too far toward security while leaving users to fend for themselves and make do. With the latest innovations in a growing market, user-friendly biometrics offer a new avenue to thwart attackers and bring a sense of peace to our new normal.

Learn more about how multi-factor authentication approaches differ from more traditional methods and how MobileAuth can support you today.


Christopher Perry

Author: Christopher Perry

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