August 23, 2022
Why you should be using biometric multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) effectively prevents attackers from using your identity to enter your network or your companies’ network. It could stop attackers stealing, damaging, or leaking data or other personal and business assets. There are typically three ways to authenticate a user via MFA:
- Knowledge (something only the user knows, e.g. password or pin)
- Possession (something only the user has e.g. a security key or employee ID smart card)
- Biometrics (something only the user is e.g. fingerprint, facial recognition, iris scan)
Biometric multi-factor authentication is used in our everyday lives in ways you will not give a second thought. Most smartphones use biometrics to authenticate user access, be it a fingerprint on your home button, facial recognition, or voice command.
Biometrics is an incredibly popular and effective authentication method. The data is difficult to replicate, easy to use, quick to authenticate and challenging to compromise.
What is biometric multi-factor authentication?
Biometric authentication is a method of authenticating a user’s identity using an element of who they are such as a biological trait, for example, a fingerprint, facial feature, eye structure or voice. Biometrics are difficult to replicate as they are unique to the individual user, which most malicious actors do not have access to unless they use sophisticated technologies.
Many individuals and organisations, therefore, use biometrics as part of the authentication process, whether it is the sole authentication method or one of multiple. As one-time passcodes and physical devices can often cause friction in the customer experience, biometrics is a user-friendly choice that enables quick and easy access to software.
What are the benefits of biometric multi-factor authentication?
Near impossible to share
Often, employees may share passwords via messaging or email to give their co-workers access to an account or device. The more passwords and OTPs (One Time Password) are shared, the more difficult it is to track and verify who has access to important data that genuinely need it.
As biometric data cannot be guessed or stolen like a physical authentication method such as OTPs, passwords, and physical keys, it is extremely difficult to share digitally or be passed from person to person. By implementing biometric authentication, attackers may reach phase 1 or 2 of the multi-factor authentication process but not gain access at the biometric stage.
Difficult to hack, leak or steal
As individuals’ biometric traits such as fingerprint, iris, voice, and facial features are unique to the biology of a person, they are incredibly difficult for a malicious actor to replicate. When using biometric authentication, the software recognises a unique biometric identity that verifies the user taking the action, rather than their password or token.
With other methods of authentication, such as passwords, OTPs and physical keys, malicious actors can use techniques such as password spraying, phishing, and ransomware, to steal or hack data from a large pool of people without physical access to them. Without sophisticated techniques that replicate the biological identity of a person or physical access to a person, there is a significant barrier to gaining access to a network.
Greater user experience
Biometric authentication is the most popular choice of authentication for devices like your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. This is because you gain instant access simply by supplying a fingerprint, vocal or facial recognition. When these characteristics match the data stored in your device, you are granted access effortlessly.
Entering a password every time you want to use a device or software that you use regularly can become tedious. Biometrics are fast, convenient, and easy to use. In addition, biometric traits cannot be lost or forgotten, which is often a significant roadblock in the authentication experience. This makes biometrics a safer and low-risk verification method.
How can you start with MFA today?
- Stop relying on just passwords or go passwordless (remove the usage of passwords entirely)
- Choose one or both of the following:
- Something you have – such as a physical security key including a FIDO key, YubiKey or Feitian allpass.
- Something you are – this is your biometric identity such as facial recognition, vocal recognition, or fingerprint
- Roll it out to your users and make it mandatory (this used to be frowned upon but more and more businesses – for example Github - are mandating use of MFA now since single factor authentication is so weak against attackers)
If you are unsure what’s the best MFA solution for you, or if you would like to find out more about biometric authentication, passwordless solutions and MFA, get in touch with us.