Emerging Trends in the Phygital World: Biometric Technology Unveiled

Biometric Technology

By Eduardo Azanza

In recent years, we have seen a convergence between the physical and digital world in order to provide us with more convenience and seamless experiences. What used to require face-to-face interactions such as purchasing goods, has now been simplified to a mere tap on our mobile phones.

As this transition continues, we are now witnessing the emergence of smoother procedures to navigate the ‘phygital’ world. A phygital world is a blend of the physical and digital realms. No longer reliant on cumbersome methods like PINs and extensive document verification, the advent of biometric technology enables us to authenticate our identities moving from “presume” identities to real identities. However, it is only natural for concerns to arise alongside these technological leaps.

The benefits and concerns of biometric technology 

The convergence of the physical and digital worlds has paved the way for the emergence of biometric technology as a powerful solution for personal authentication, offering numerous benefits alongside understandable concerns. This innovative technology enhances convenience and ensures a higher level of security, gradually replacing the need for multiple passwords and PINs. Industry leaders identified by NIST and Biometrics Institute are implementing face or voice recognition that uniquely matches each user with minimal chances of mistaken identity. 

Moreover, the impact of biometric technology extends beyond the digital domain, bringing efficiency and confidence to verification processes in the physical world. For instance, the integration of face biometrics has significantly reduced airport queue times, streamlining the boarding experience. Additionally, corporate buildings, banks, and government institutions use biometric technology to confidently authenticate their customers.

However, despite the many advantages of biometrics, concerns related to privacy and security persist among the general public. The increased utilisation of facial recognition, as seen with CCTV surveillance, has intensified apprehensions regarding government-level surveillance and overall security.

Acknowledging these legitimate concerns, the industry must give more importance to vendors who prioritise the protection of user data. This includes ensuring that data is stored adequately and legitimately. Additionally, vendors should be clear with customers and end users regarding the usage of personal data. Ethical training of biometric engines and obtaining explicit data protection certification should also be considered.

Enhancing secure authentication with biometric technology

Biometrics is playing a vital role not only in identity verification, but also in the realm of authentication. Its adoption is witnessing exponential growth, with facial and voice biometrics emerging as the most widely used types. Biometric methods, including fingerprint and iris recognition, are favoured for their simplicity and user-friendliness, as they do not rely on advanced devices for implementation.

The rise of biometric authentication marks a shift away from the traditional reliance on passwords and tokenised methods. These conventional approaches not only compromise security but also contribute to a diminished user experience. Biometrics, on the other hand, offers a promising alternative that enhances both security and user satisfaction.

One noteworthy aspect of biometrics is its potential to bridge the digital divide, particularly among marginalised sections of society, such as the elderly and disabled. Voice biometrics, for instance, enables retirees to conveniently access their pensions without the need for physical visits to government offices. By employing biometric solutions, organisations can combat the digital divide and empower individuals who may otherwise face barriers to digitisation.

Another compelling application of biometrics lies in age verification legislation. These regulations aim to strike a balance between compliance and accessibility to restricted content for the elderly. Biometric solutions provide a means to achieve this delicate equilibrium, facilitating age verification processes while preserving unhindered access for senior citizens.

For organisations considering the implementation of voice biometrics as part of their authentication process, ensuring the reliability and security of the technology is paramount. Selecting a trusted third-party verification technology that adheres to government standards is crucial. This will assure businesses that their authentication processes align with the latest fraud prevention methods and offer a dependable and secure experience.

Investing in solutions that have integrated voice anti-spoofing technology has become imperative to address the potential threat of deepfakes, where threat actors disguise themselves as digital doppelgangers, and presentation attacks, where adversaries attempt to deceive the system by playing pre-recorded audio to impersonate someone. This technology examines audio signals to detect any signs of fraudulent activity promptly. By swiftly identifying and preventing presentation attacks, organisations can safeguard sensitive information from unauthorised access and mitigate the risk of identity theft.

Furthermore, bolstering the identification process can be achieved by implementing multi-factor authentication. Integrating voice biometrics with other forms of identification, such as document verification or facial recognition, creates a robust authentication scheme. Even if one factor is compromised, the attacker will face additional barriers, rendering the compromised factor useless without simultaneous access to the other elements.

By implementing multiple layers of biometrics, organisations can elevate their security measures, making it considerably more challenging for adversaries to impersonate individuals. Unlike traditional passwords or physical identification, biometrics offer uniqueness and non-replicability, making unauthorised access and identity fraud significantly more difficult.

In pursuing a comprehensive security framework, organisations must recognise the value of incorporating multiple layers of biometric authentication, leveraging the uniqueness of each individual’s biometric traits to fortify their systems against potential threats.

Regulations and compliance for biometric technology

As biometric technology continues to advance and gain worldwide adoption, there is a need for regulatory oversight. Various regulations have been put in place to safeguard the collection and storage of biometric data, ensuring its protection and proper usage.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recognises biometric data as sensitive information that requires strong protection, and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) likewise includes stringent provisions for handling biometric information. 

The ISO and IEC developed ISO/IEC 30107 framework provides specific guidelines for detecting presentation attacks on biometric data from various sources, including direct, online, or existing databases. Furthermore, organisations are encouraged to submit their biometric technologies to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for assessment. NIST conducts unbiased evaluations of biometric devices from different vendors, providing accuracy and performance ratings in diverse environments. 

It is essential that businesses comply with these regulations. Organisations need to be conducting periodic diagnoses on the ethical principles of AI and biometric solutions. Confidence in biometric security technology must be based on transparency and compliance with legal, technical, and ethical standards.

The significance of thorough risk analysis documentation for AI systems has also been emphasised, with the NIST recommendations serving as a valuable point of reference in particular. The rapid growth of the AI landscape necessitates swift regulatory action by governments. Proactive measures are essential to prevent misuse and inappropriate behaviour within this ever-evolving technological realm.

However, it is also important for government institutions to recognise that improvement is still needed in drafting regulations related to environment and ethical issues. For example, guidance is needed on documenting and auditing the compliance of AI systems with ethical principles. 

Ultimately, as businesses adopt biometric technology, it becomes crucial for them to prioritise data protection, identify deepfakes, and comply with regulations. Adhering to these regulations safeguards individuals’ privacy rights and enhances trust and confidence in the responsible use of biometric technology. By embracing compliance, organisations can confidently navigate the evolving landscape of biometric technology while maintaining the highest standards of security and privacy.

About the Author

Eduardo AzanzaEduardo Azanza is the CEO and co-founder of Veridas, a biometric technology company founded in 2012. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Azanza has been a driving force behind Veridas’ success in developing cutting-edge biometric solutions for identity verification, digital onboarding, and access control.


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