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The growing use of behavioral biometric technology in authentication

digital identity KYC security

By Leandro Margulis, VP of Developer Relations at UnifyID.

With the pandemic forcing everyone that could to work from home, we have seen an acceleration of remote working technology not only being put to the test, but also stretching its limits. With every work connection from home there is a potential weak link for a hacker to enter into a network they should not be able to access.

It is in this environment that the adoption of two factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA) solutions is taking place. There are always tradeoffs to be made between security and convenience, and while we have been erring on the side of convenience for the last few years, that does not cut it anymore. Companies are willing to sacrifice a level of convenience for the additional security given there is more at stake when most of the transactions in an individuals’ life are happening digitally.

While companies may be willing to make that sacrifice and force their workforce to go through some hoops, that is not the case with individual consumers. The more friction a company adds to their end consumer experience, the more business the company ends up losing.

How can we add the needed security without adding the unwanted friction?

Enter the world of biometrics.

Biometric technology allows companies to uniquely identify a person based on one or more characteristics deemed unique to a particular individual, such as their face or physical fingerprint.

However, in a pandemic world both your hands and face end up covered by gloves and masks, so relying on those traditional second factor authentication (2FA) methods could increase friction and hurt the end user experience.

Enter the world of BEHAVIORAL biometrics!

It turns out that what makes each one of us unique is not only some unique physical features, but also how uniquely we behave: The way we move and walk, our habits, our routines and the devices we interact with along the way on a regular basis.

These activities can be understood by leveraging the sensor readings from a smartphone and creating a model of someone’s behavior to compare against in order to determine if someone is who we think it is (or who they claim to be).

Behavioral biometrics allow us to create beautiful and elegant user experiences that take what is unique about a user to uniquely identify and authenticate them without them having to do anything different. They can simply go about their day and the machine learning models can do their magic in the background.

Some of the use cases where we can see behavioral biometrics in action are:

Payment Transactions: When making a peer-to-peer payment, the 2FA could be done via behavioral biometrics without adding any friction to the end user while adding the extra level of security. This works for money transfers as well as making any kind of purchases where an app in a mobile phone can be part of the process.

Unlocking doors: Walk to a home, office or car door with a phone in your pocket and the door will instinctually unlock as you walk towards it since the machine learning models can attest that the phone is in your possession and it is indeed you walking towards that door.

Differentiating humans from machines: Sometimes you do not need to know exactly who is behind a device, but you are interested in making sure it is a human, versus a bot or a phone on a shelf in a “click farm”. Behavioral biometrics can differentiate between human behaviors and others, which can help prevent bot attacks.

These are some of the applications where behavioral biometrics come into play. We will see an increase in adoption of behavioral biometric technologies in the upcoming years due to the plethora of sensors around us that lower costs, as well as, the ability to interpret the sensor readings and gain insights from them via machine learning.

About the author

Leandro Margulis is the VP of Developer Relations at UnifyID. He is an entrepreneurial leader with strong business development experience, effective sales and marketing skills used to launch new products and businesses. After graduating from Florida International University (FIU) with a B.S. in Industrial Systems Engineering, Leandro went on to receive his MBA from the Yale School of Management in Strategy and Business Development. Leandro loves building both products and communities.

DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update’s Industry Insights are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.

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