Biometric authentication solutions are fast becoming the antidote to clunky, inconvenient and easy-to-forget strong passwords. Mobile fingerprint scanning technology such as Apple Touch ID is already a global mass market with broad consumer acceptance.
The problem? One 2017 research study reported that smartphones—with their limited processing and optimization around convenience—are too easily fooled by fake digital fingerprints, by one estimate up to 65% of the time under certain conditions. And so, the search continues for solutions that are ever more convenient and secure—taking us to the biometric authentication mode of face recognition technology (FRT).
From fingerprints to face recognition technology
A biometric market star, face recognition technology (FRT) is predicted to rise from USD 3.85 billion in 2017 to an estimated USD 9.78 billion by 2023. Similar to other authentication methods such as fingerprint matching, iris scanning and voice recognition, facial recognition software mathematically maps out physical characteristics of someone attempting a login and compares it against the image enrolled in the system.
Security-conscious organizations are sitting up and taking notice of FRT’s rising adoption across industries. Governments use it to identify and head off potential and current threats. Dubai Airport uses it for security and to reduce check-in times. Hospitals use FRT for speedier, more accurate patient care; Mastercard Identity Check provides payment confirmation, and online retailer Alibaba takes online payments with its Smile to Pay software. Get the idea?
Taking face recognition technology further with 3D imaging
Face ID, the 3D facial recognition technology Apple introduced with the iPhone X, is a great example of next-generation face recognition. Whereas 2D facial recognition software analyzes and compares the relative position, size and shape of specific facial characteristics, the iPhone X’s infrared camera beams out and analyzes over 30,000 invisible dots to create a multi-dimensional, far more precise mathematical matrix.
3D FRT also overcomes serious 2D shortcomings with its power to recognize faces in different lighting, with different facial expressions and from different angles. Continuous deep learning improves this 3D model, potentially recognizing you even when wearing sunglasses or after a dramatic change in hairstyle.
5 reasons to consider FRT as part of your authentication strategy
- Greater Accuracy: 3D mapping, deep learning and other advances make FRT more reliable and harder to trick.
- Better Security: Research shows a 1-in-50,000 chance of a phone with touch ID being unlocked with the wrong fingerprint. With 3D facial modeling, the probability drops to nearly 1-in-1,000,000.
- Convenient and Frictionless: FRT is easy. It can be used passively without a user’s knowledge; or actively, such as having a person “smile for the camera.”
- Smarter Integration: Face recognition tools are generally easy to integrate with existing security infrastructures, saving time and cost on software redevelopment.
- Automation: Automated and accurate 24/7 security eliminates the need for security guards to visually monitor entry points, perform security checks and view security cameras.
Of course, no technology is entirely without risk. Facial recognition is highly data-intense, which can make processing and storage an obstacle. Despite enormous advances, recognizing faces from multiple camera angles or with obstructions (such as hats) is still not perfect. Plus, there have been controversies related to privacy issues, particularly in retail settings. This is why face recognition should be combined with other multifactor methods to strengthen user access, never as a single factor by itself.
The best of user convenience and data security
Biometric technologies including face recognition represent the new wave of identity and authentication solutions. With its myriad benefits, it’s an important option to consider when planning your authentication strategy.
Jeff Carpenter is Director of Identity and Access Management solutions at Crossmatch. In this role, he is responsible for evangelizing Crossmatch’s DigitalPersona® solution. In his 10+ years in cybersecurity, Jeff has held positions with a number of top tier cybersecurity and technology companies, most recently he was with RSA, a Dell Technologies company. Jeff earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He holds both a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and a Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) designation.