In our digital age, biometric verification has become an increasingly popular way to ensure accurate identity verification and convenience for various applications, from unlocking smartphones to accessing secure facilities. From a commercial perspective, biometric verification is not just a trend, it's a game-changer.
The biometrics market size is expected to grow from US$44 billion in 2023 to US$90.39 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate of 15.3%. Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing market in part because of increasing mobile payment transactions along with growing private and government initiatives towards adopting biometric authentication systems. Businesses are rapidly adopting this technology to enhance security and improve customer experiences.
But despite its growing adoption, there are valid concerns about the privacy and safety of biometric data. As we entrust more of our personal information to digital platforms, the question of how to protect this sensitive data becomes more pressing.
To address these concerns, we’ll go over the benefits of transforming biometric data into fraud-proof verifiable credentials. Biometric providers have come to Dock to solve the problem of reliably attaching identity to biometric markers in a decentralized and secure manner with user consent. Biometrics work best when they're tied to the everyday data that businesses use. Imagine how powerful it can be when your fingerprint not only unlocks your phone but also seamlessly connects you to your work-related tasks.
What Is Biometric Verification?
Biometric verification is a technology that identifies individuals based on unique physical or behavioral characteristics. Because every person has distinct characteristics that are not easily duplicated, biometric technology can uniquely identify each individual. These characteristics can include photos, fingerprints, facial recognition, iris scans, voice patterns, and even behavioral attributes like typing rhythms or gait. This biometric identification can be used in future interactions to authenticate the individual. In short, biometrics can confirm that you are who you say you are by showing that you are the same physical person as was previously identified.
What Is a Biometric Proof of Identity?
A biometric proof of identity refers to the use of a biometric verification that is associated with identity attributes such as by being attached to an identity document. By attaching a biometric marker to an identity document, the same biometric can later be verified to show that the person is the same individual who is the subject of the identity document.
This association can be done at the time the document is created by embedding biometric data into the document—a photo ID is a common example. A biometric marker can also be associated with a document later in its lifecycle by creating a credential that contains the biometric information and the document identifier or document hash. When the individual wants to present the identity document, they may also be asked to provide a biometric verification that matches the biometric marker associated with the document. In this way, the relying party knows that the individual is the same physical person to whom the document was issued.
Biometric proof of identity has many applications. It's used in airports for swift and secure passenger boarding, by financial institutions to authorize payment and grant account access, and by government agencies for maintaining national security and preventing identity theft.
Biometric Verification Example
The unparalleled accuracy of biometric verification is due largely to the uniqueness of individual human traits. No one in the world has the same fingerprints as someone else. To this day, no two fingerprints have been found to be identical, even between identical twins. In fact, the probability of two people sharing the same fingerprints is 1 in 64 billion.
A simple and common example of biometric verification is the use of fingerprint scanning to unlock a smartphone.
1) Enrollment: The first step involves registering your fingerprint on your phone. This is typically done by placing your finger on the phone's fingerprint sensor multiple times until the phone has accurately captured the unique patterns of your fingerprint.
2) Storage: The phone then converts this information into a digital format and stores it securely in a protected area of the device's memory. The phone doesn't store an image of your fingerprint, but rather a mathematical representation of it.
3) Verification: Each time you want to unlock your phone, you place your finger on the sensor. Then the phone quickly scans the fingerprint and compares it to the stored data. If the scanned fingerprint matches the stored data, the phone unlocks.
This is effective because:
- Your fingerprint is unique to you, making it a secure way to verify your identity
- Unlocking your phone with a fingerprint is faster and more convenient than typing a password or pattern
- It's much harder for someone to replicate your fingerprint than to guess a password, enhancing the security of your device
The top industries that are using biometric technology include:
- Banking and finance: For secure customer authentication, ATM access, and fraud prevention in transactions.
- Government and law enforcement: Used in national ID programs, border control, voter registration, and criminal identification.
- Healthcare: Patient identification, access control for medical records, and staff authentication.
- Technology and IT: Enhancing security in user authentication, access control to sensitive data, and for secure online transactions.
- Travel and hospitality: In airports for expedited boarding processes, in hotels for personalized guest experiences, and travel security.
- Telecommunications: For subscriber identification, securing devices, and fraud prevention in service access.
How Does Biometric Verification Work?
Step 1: Data Collection
The first step in biometric verification is data collection. This involves capturing a biometric sample from the individual. Depending on the biometric system, this could be a fingerprint scan, a facial recognition scan, an iris scan, a voice recording, or even a scan of the person's unique way of walking. Advanced sensors and cameras are used to capture these biometric details accurately.
Step 2: Data Conversion and Storage
Once the biometric sample is captured, it is converted into a digital format. This digital representation, often called a biometric template, is a mathematical representation of the person's unique biometric data. It's important to note that the system doesn't store an actual image of the fingerprint or face but rather this digital code. This template is then securely stored in the system's database for future reference. To protect the privacy of the individual, it should not be possible to derive the sample from the template.
Step 3: Enrollment
Enrollment is the process of adding a new user's biometric data into the system. During enrollment, the biometric system captures and stores the individual's biometric template in its database. This stored template will be used for future comparisons when the individual attempts to verify their identity using the system.
Step 4: Comparison and Matching
When someone attempts to access a service or device using biometric verification, the system captures their biometric data and converts it into a digital template. This newly captured template is then compared with the stored templates in the database. If the new template matches a stored template, the individual is verified.
Step 5: Authentication Decision
The final step is the authentication decision. The biometric system uses complex algorithms to determine if the newly captured biometric data matches the stored data. If there's a match, the system confirms the individual's identity, granting them access. If there's no match, access is denied, ensuring security against unauthorized users. This common process relies on a centralized database with all of the individual’s data. The centralized data storage system needs to be adapted to a more secure and private approach for biometric data storage if there are risks of data breaches.
Are Biometrics Reliable?
Biometric technology has become a staple in various security systems because of its role in enhancing security through unique physical and behavioral characteristics. But a critical question often comes up: Are biometrics truly reliable?
While biometric systems are highly accurate, they are not infallible. Like any technology based on statistical algorithms, biometric authentication cannot guarantee 100% reliability. Even though the chances are low, there are instances of a:
- False Rejection: Occurs when a biometric system fails to recognize genuine biometric data, denying access to an authorized user.
- False Acceptance: The opposite scenario, where the system mistakenly recognizes an unauthorized user's biometric data as belonging to a legitimate user.
Advancements in Technology for Increased Biometric Verification Accuracy
Over the years, technological advancements have significantly improved the accuracy of biometric verification systems. These improvements include enhanced sensors, more sophisticated algorithms, and larger, more diverse data sets for training these systems. As a result, the instances of false acceptances and rejections have considerably decreased, making biometrics more reliable than ever.
The Role of Multimodal Biometrics (Combines Several Biometric Sources)
One of the most effective ways to increase the reliability of biometric systems is through the use of multimodal biometrics. This approach combines several biometric sources, such as face and fingerprint or iris and fingerprints, to authenticate identity.
By requiring two forms of biometric credentials, multimodal systems create a more robust security framework, significantly reducing the chances of unauthorized access.
Multimodal biometrics can overcome the limitations commonly encountered in unimodal systems (systems that rely on a single biometric trait). For instance, if a fingerprint scanner fails due to a worn-out print, the facial recognition feature can still ensure accurate identification.
Historically, the combination of multiple biometric features has proven to decrease error rates substantially. The cross-verification among different modalities ensures a higher level of precision and reliability.
How Biometric Verification Fights Fraud
Since 2020, identity theft and credit card fraud have been among the most common types of fraud:
- Over 1 million children fall victim to identity fraud every year
- About 1 in 10 Europeans claim to have experienced online identity theft
- Between $24 million and $55 million pounds is lost annually to card ID theft in the UK
- Around 1 in 3 Americans have been victims of identity theft
Because biometrics offers a level of security that is incredibly difficult to compromise, it is a critical tool in the fight against fraud:
1) Eliminating Password Vulnerabilities
One of the most common ways fraud occurs is through the exploitation of weak or stolen passwords. By replacing passwords with biometric data, the risk associated with password vulnerabilities is significantly lowered. This is especially important in sectors like finance and healthcare, where the security of sensitive information is crucial.
2) Behavioral Biometrics
Beyond physical traits, biometrics also includes behavioral characteristics like keystroke dynamics, gait analysis, and voice recognition. These attributes are not only unique to individuals but are also difficult to mimic, making them powerful tools for continuous authentication and fraud detection.
3) Real-Time Verification
Biometric verification often occurs in real-time, allowing for immediate detection and prevention of unauthorized access. This instant verification is crucial in stopping fraudulent activities as they happen, rather than dealing with the aftermath.
4) Unique Physical Attributes
Biometrics rely on characteristics such as fingerprints, facial recognition, and iris scans, which are unique to each individual. This uniqueness is crucial because it drastically reduces the likelihood of identity theft. Unlike passwords or PINs, which can be guessed or stolen, biometrics can’t be easily replicated or forged.
Benefits of Biometric Verification
Reduced Operational Costs
By implementing biometric verification, organizations can reduce the costs associated with managing traditional security systems, such as resetting passwords or replacing lost ID cards.
The initial investment in biometric technology is often offset by the long-term savings in security and efficiency. The reduction in fraud and time saved in user authentication translates into significant cost benefits.
Reducing the Scope for Fraudulent Activities
With the implementation of biometric verification, the effort and resources required to commit fraud increase significantly. This acts as a deterrent, reducing the overall incidence of fraud.
Meeting Regulatory Standards
In many industries, regulations require stringent measures to combat fraud. Biometric verification can help not only meet these standards but often exceeds them, ensuring compliance and avoiding potential legal repercussions.
Enhanced User Confidence
As more consumers become aware of the security benefits of biometrics, trust in digital transactions increases. This is essential for businesses that rely on online transactions, as consumers are more likely to engage with platforms they believe are secure.
Better Customer Convenient and Efficiency
Biometric verification streamlines the authentication process. A quick scan of a fingerprint or a facial recognition check can grant access, eliminating the need to remember and enter passwords or carry ID cards. Biometrics are incredibly user-friendly and accessible. They don’t require the user to remember complex passwords.
Concerns Over Biometric Data Security
While biometric verification is hailed for its ability to enhance security and convenience, it's crucial to address the concerns surrounding biometric data security. As we integrate biometrics more deeply into our daily lives, understanding and mitigating these concerns is essential for maintaining trust and privacy.
Centralized Data Storage: Biometric verification systems have traditionally relied on a centralized database to store the data that will be compared with the biometric challenge, as well as the data that will be associated with the biometric in order to grant system access. These databases are not only hard to secure, but they are also hard to integrate into complex workflows. In addition, they frequently fail to comply with current regulations requiring consent in order to process the user data. Modern approaches that use verifiable credentials can harness the certainty of biometric identification while improving the security of user data, gaining the flexibility of decentralized workflows, and ensuring user consent is obtained when data is used.
Sensitive Data Exposure: If biometric databases aren’t properly protected, they can become targets for cyberattacks, leading to the exposure of highly sensitive personal information. Also, like any technological system, biometric verification systems are subject to failures and malfunctions, which can lead to security vulnerabilities or access issues.
Surveillance and Tracking: The use of biometric verification systems raises concerns about unauthorized surveillance and tracking. The fear is that governments or private entities could use biometric data to monitor individuals without consent.
Consent and Data Collection: There are also concerns about how biometric data is collected, stored, and used. Issues around consent and the potential for data to be used for purposes other than originally intended are significant privacy considerations.
Bias and Discrimination: Biometric systems, like any technology, can have built-in biases, potentially leading to discrimination. For example, facial recognition software has been criticized for having lower accuracy rates for certain demographic groups.
Legal Frameworks: The legal frameworks surrounding the use of biometric data are still evolving. There are concerns about the lack of comprehensive laws and regulations to protect individuals against the misuse of their biometric information.
Error Rates: Biometric systems are not infallible and errors do occur, leading to false positives or false negatives. This can result in unauthorized access (in the case of false positives) or denying access to legitimate users (in the case of false negatives).
Addressing these concerns is crucial for the continued adoption and trust in biometric verification technologies. This involves developing robust security measures, transparent data policies, and ensuring legal and ethical compliance. As technology evolves, so must our approaches to securing and managing biometric data, ensuring it serves its purpose without compromising individual rights and privacy.
Use Dock to Turn Biometric Verification Data Into Secure Fraud-Proof Credentials
Dock's approach in transforming biometric verification data into secure, fraud-proof credentials offers a promising solution to these concerns. Dock’s platform enables you to package biometric and verified identity data into a reusable, fraud-proof, and instantly verifiable credential.
A verifiable credential is a digital certificate that confirms specific information about an individual or entity. It's similar to physical credentials like a driver's license or a university diploma, but in a digital format. When this credential is linked with biometric data, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition, it becomes significantly more secure. This association ensures that the credential is not only verifiable but also uniquely tied to the individual, making fraudulent use or replication exceedingly difficult.
Before, biometric data could only be tied to a device, which makes it hard to integrate it with other identity data in a secure and privacy-preserving way. With Dock’s platform, you can create biometric-bound verifiable credentials that combine biometric and verified identity data with advanced privacy and security.
Benefits of Leveraging Verifiable Credentials For Biometrics Data Protection
- Faster, identity verification with a biometric verifiable credential can replace slow and expensive verification processes
- Verify identity data without storing or managing it, which reduces clients’ exposure of personally identifiable information and the associated risks
- Because these credentials come with a cryptographic signature, stakeholders can detect any data tampering instantly
- Digital verifiable credentials provide advanced data privacy and security
- Access online services and products faster with more efficient sign up processes
- Users are empowered with consent-based data sharing by simply using their digital identity wallet from their phone
Example Biometric Verification Process Flows
Below is an example of how biometric verification can be integrated into the issuance and verification of digital credentials. These processes ensure secure and efficient authentication by linking biometric data with digital credentials while maintaining the privacy of personally identifiable (PII) information.
- The credential holder sets up a wallet integrated with the biometric service
- During wallet setup, the holder enrolls in the biometric service
- The service issues a credential with a hash of the privacy-preserving digital representation of the biometric data, which validates enrollment
Hashing is a process that converts data into a fixed-size string of characters, which is typically a unique representation of the input data. In this case, the hash of the biometric template serves as a unique identifier for the individual's biometric data.
The credential allows the biometric service to not retain PII about the holder.
- Holder requests a credential from the issuer
- Issuer requests a proof of the biometric
- Holder uses the wallet to update the biometric credential
- Biometric service requests to verify the enrollment credential
- Biometric service checks the current biometric against the enrollment credential
- Biometric service issues a credential showing a valid biometric
- Holder provides biometric credential to issuer, who checks that the credential is recent (< X mins old)
- Issuer issues credential, with an attribute that proof of the biometric was provided by the issuer
- Credential verifier requests proof of biometric as part of the proof presentation
- Holder repeats the process to get an updated biometric credential
- Holder provides the biometric credential in a compound proof (represents more than one piece of evidence) with the credential the verifier expects from the issuer
- Verifier checks that the biometric is from the same issuer as the attribute in the credential
Biometric Verification Use Cases
Enhanced Security in Financial Transactions
Banking and Finance: Biometrics are increasingly used in banking for secure account access and transaction authentication. Features like fingerprint and facial recognition are now common in mobile banking apps, providing a safer alternative to traditional PINs and passwords.
ATM Transactions: Some ATMs now incorporate biometric scanners, allowing customers to access their accounts and perform transactions using their biometric data, thereby reducing the risk of card skimming and fraud.
Streamlining Travel and Immigration
Airports and Border Control: Airports are employing biometric verification for passenger boarding and immigration processes. This not only enhances security but also speeds up the check-in and boarding procedures, offering a more seamless travel experience.
E-Passports: Biometric data embedded in passports add an extra layer of security, making it difficult to forge documents and illegally cross borders.
Revolutionizing Healthcare Services
Patient Identification: In healthcare, biometric verification ensures the accurate identification of patients, reducing the risk of medical errors and fraudulent insurance claims. This is particularly crucial in administering the right treatment to the right patient.
Access to Medical Records: Secure access to electronic medical records using biometric data protects sensitive patient information and complies with privacy regulations.
Advancing Law Enforcement and Public Safety
Criminal Identification: Law enforcement agencies use biometric data for identifying suspects, victims, and other individuals, significantly aiding in criminal investigations.
Public Safety Initiatives: Biometric verification systems are used in public safety initiatives like national ID programs, which provide citizens with secure and unique identification for accessing various government services.
Corporate and Workplace Applications
Employee Attendance and Access Control: Many companies implement biometric verification for employee attendance tracking and secure access to facilities, replacing traditional ID cards and access codes.
Data Centers and Sensitive Areas: Biometrics provide a high level of security for access to data centers and other sensitive areas within a corporate environment.
By turning biometric verification data into secure, fraud-proof credentials, Dock is addressing the main privacy and data safety concerns associated with biometric technology. Through advanced security measures and a focus on user privacy and control, Dock is paving the way for a future where biometric verification is not only convenient and efficient but also secure and trusted. This innovative approach is a significant step forward in harnessing the power of biometric technology while safeguarding against its potential risks.
Dock’s Verifiable Credential platform makes any data fraud-proof and instantly verifiable. It comprises the Certs API, the Certs no-code web app, an ID wallet and a dedicated blockchain. Using Dock, organizations reduce data verification costs while increasing the operational efficiency of verifying and issuing digital credentials. Individuals can fully control their data to access products and services more conveniently in a privacy-preserving way. Dock has been a leader in decentralized digital identity technology since 2017 and trusted by organizations in diverse sectors, including healthcare, finance, and education.
Partner Use Cases
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