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How Secure is Biometric Authentication?

There is a lot to worry about these days, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that is spreading across the country and the world. So much of our lives are on our phones, our computers, and our tablets. Security measures have been put into place on many devices to keep our data secure. One such example of this is biometric authentication. 


So what is biometric authentication? Biometric authentication can be defined as a form of security which uses unique personal characteristics to validate or invalidate someone attempting to access a device. There are several different types of biometric authentications:

Types of Biometrics

  • Fingerprints - This is the recognition of a finger's unique ridges. This is one of the oldest forms of biometric identification.
  • Finger/hand veins - Infrared lights pass through the surface of the skin where they then absorb into deoxygenated blood.
  • Hand geometry - Once a dominant method of biometric measurement, hand geometry biometrics refer to the measurement of hand characteristics such as the width and length of fingers.
  • Iris recognition - This measures the unique folds of the thread-like muscles in the iris. 
  • Retina scan - These use unique near-infrared cameras to capture capillaries deep within the eye.
  • Facial recognition - Measurements of the geometry of the face are used to verify the person's identity.
  • Ear shape - These measure the ear's acoustics utilizing special headphones and inaudible sound waves.
  • Voice recognition - The sound a person's voice makes is determined by the shape of their vocal tract, including the mouth, nose, and larynx. The way a person speaks--tone, pace, movement variations, accent, etc.--is also unique. The biometrics uses data from both of these qualities to identify a person's voice.
  • Thermography recognition - Biometric facial thermography captures heat patterns that are caused by moving blood underneath the skin. 

An ideal security solution would use multiple biometrics, because there are some limitations with each biometric, if used as a single source authentication.  Here are examples of limitations with some of the more popular biometrics.  

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is an excellent option for many people because it's quick and convenient. However, it's possible to fool the technology using a photo of the user. Facial recognition can also be prone to false negatives. It may not recognize your face if you're wearing makeup or glasses or if there are differences in the lighting.


In early days of fingerprint scanning, an image of the user's fingerprint was taken and so it was easy to spoof the scanners with a two-dimensional copy of the user's print. Now, fingerprint scanners detect the ridges of a fingerprint. While it is possible to create a three-dimensional replica, this isn't a threat for the majority of businesses.


Iris Recognition

Iris scanning offers a very high level of security. The iris contains a pattern that is unique to each person and almost impossible to replicate. Readings are also very accurate and reliable because eyes are self-cleaning and image capture is actually performed without physical contact.

The downside to iris scanning is that it can be slower than facial recognition or fingerprint recognition. It can also be affected by contacts or glasses. 

When it comes to fingerprints, facial recognition, and iris recognition, they are helpful but do have limitations, especially as a one-time static authentication.

About Smart Eye Technology®

Smart Eye Technology® is a new game-changer in the security industry because it uniquely provides the ideal solution by using multiple types of biometric authentication. And it takes it one step further by providing continuous authentication - for continuous, ongoing protection. You can learn more about Smart Eye Technology® by browsing our site.