The use of biometrics

Biometrics are the unique physical characteristics of a person that can be recognized by software. For example by using fingerprint or facial recognition scanners.

Research by Lastpass shows that on average a consumer uses more than 25 applications that require a password. Usually, less than 13 different passwords are used.

For business users, this number can rise to more than 200 passwords. On average, no more than 40 different passwords are used. 61% of the respondents even use 1 password or a variation of 1 password for all their business applications.

As a result, the security of the applications and personal data is low. Biometrics is changing this because security based on specific personal characteristics is virtually impossible to crack.

Biometrics as an alternative to password identification

Biometrics is currently the best alternative to password identification because you don't have to remember anything and biometrics are 100% person-specific.

Software can identify individuals based on the following biometrics:

1. Finger-, and handprint identification

Everyone has a unique finger and handprint. Fingerprint scanners are cheap and are therefore regularly used in smartphones, laptops, door locks and at many passport controls.

2. Face, and iris identification

Everyone has a unique face and a unique iris. Cameras can recognize the unique characteristics of a face or iris. To scan the iris, the person must be close to a camera. Face recognition is also possible from a great distance. Face recognition is used at many airports to detect wanted criminals.

3. Behavior identification

How you walk and move is unique for everyone. Software can deduce from this not only who you are, but also whether you show abnormal behavior such as nervousness. Scanners do need a lot of footage to recognize specific behaviors. That is why this technique is not yet widely used.

4. Speech identification

Speech recognition software can recognize an individual by how they speak. It doesn't matter if you speak loud or soft or in another language. This relatively affordable application is often used in combination with a fingerprint or hand scanner.

5. Handwriting identification

Handwriting recognition is already widely used within banks and by courier services. Usually, this only applies to a signature. Because handwriting and especially signatures can change over the years, this technique is rarely used as a primary security measure.

6. DNA identification

The DNA of an individual is unique, but it is costly and time-consuming to compare DNA. In addition, the individual has to give DNA through, for example, a saliva test. DNA recognition is only applied on a small scale. Usually, this involves a crime.

Useful applications of biometrics

Biometrics is used for more applications than just identifying individuals. Examples of biometric applications are:

  • The creation of a shelf plan Cameras can record the walking route taken and the viewing behavior of consumers in a shop. As a result, the shops know what are known as hotspots and what are possible blind spots in the shop. This information can be used to create an optimal shelf plan that influences consumers' purchasing behavior in a positive way.

  • Navigation optimization Software such as Hotjar maps the way you navigate in sites, software or an app. As a result, developers and marketers know which buttons and which communication are or are not noticed. This enables them to simplify the navigation or to bring a message to the attention of the user.

  • Optimisation of equipment
    Smartphone developers keep track of how often, where and how you use your Smartphone. This way they know if a certain model is used more or less by travelers or business people and they can adjust the successor of this model accordingly. They also know which pre-installed applications are more and less popular. This enables them to respond even better to the wishes of the target group in the future.

  • Customer recognition Customer recognition is still not very often used but is becoming more and more popular. A customer who enters a bank or shop can be recognized based on his behavior or face. The employee receives the personal information on a screen and can thus serve the customer faster and better.

Privacy and biometrics

In the film Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, made in 2015, actor Tom Cruise is unfairly chased by the police who recognize him everywhere on the street by his unique iris. He has to undergo an illegal eye transplant to change his identity.

Many people are afraid that person identification by biometrics will head in this direction in the near future. Everything you do in this scenario is stored in a central database and if the government would want to do harm, it could be abused.

People who believe this scenario are not all equally anxious. If everything is known to everyone, the criminality will decrease as well. As long as you don't do anything illegal, there is nothing wrong and if you do, the chance of getting caught is 100%.

Smartphones and privacy

It has been known for years that the NSA can wiretap your Smartphone. Even when your mobile is switched off, the NSA can remotely activate your microphone and camera without you noticing. It became a big scandal when it turned out that the NSA was tapping prominent politicians such as German Chancellor Merkel.

More and more stories are appearing in the media in which it appears that agencies or smartphone producers store information of consumers without their knowledge. Usually, this even violates local and international law.

Biometric data and identification fraud

Despite the fact that biometric identification is currently not very difficult to crack, this does not mean that it will always remain so. When all the information of an individual is known, it becomes easier to find ways to circumvent this form of security.

By using the increasingly realistic 3D animations and audio and image manipulation, an individual can easily be imitated. As a result of this identification fraud, biometric identification will suddenly no longer be as secure as one now thinks.

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