Biometric Technology Advancement Revolutionizing Both Cyber and Physical Security

Our second blog in the series on when fingerprints are best, Stan Swearingen, SVP of Strategy & Advanced Development at IDEX Biometrics, discusses how biometric technology advancement is revolutionizing both cyber and physical security.

For many years we’ve relied on the use of passwords and PINs to secure our systems. But in recent times, the shortcomings of the password have started to become more apparent. High profile breaches have led to thousands of passwords being exposed and this, combined with people’s bad habits such as reusing passwords across multiple systems, puts information at risk.

It’s no surprise that businesses are turning to more secure methods. Multi-factor authentication, backing a password with a secondary key sent by text or an authenticator app for added security, has started to become more common. However, this too has its shortcomings, which is why there are increasing moves towards other forms of authentication.


The attraction of biometric security is clear. If you are using your face, your voice or your fingerprint to sign in, then you always have it with you. Unlike passwords, there is no risk of forgetting or losing biometric ID factors. Even if there is a security breach and the information is exposed, it’s not possible for a hacker to easily exploit it.

Biometric authentication comes in multiple forms. We are increasingly accustomed to unlocking our smartphones and laptops with a fingerprint, but facial and voice recognition are commonly used too, as are retinal scans. As these techniques become more widely accepted, we could be approaching the end for the password.

Which is best?

With so many different biometric options available, which is the best choice when it comes to securing systems? While all have their attractions, some have more going for them than others. Facial recognition can be confused by a new beard or different glasses, plus of course, your face changes over time, so your details need to be regularly updated. The same applies to voice recognition as this too is something that can change over time or affected by illness.

For these reasons, biometric fingerprint recognition has gained traction. Fingerprints, of course, are unique; even identical twins have different ones. And although fingerprints do degrade a little over the years, this can be compensated for by using more advanced algorithms and better sensors.

There’s another key advantage too which is that fingerprint scanning technology has become much more compact. It’s now possible to build a fingerprint sensor into a smart payment card, allowing an extra layer of authentication to be added to support contactless payments, for example.

Increasingly consumers are becoming aware of the vulnerability of their data and the risks that conducting electronic transactions exposes them to. Businesses are recognizing this too and realize that if they don’t take adequate measures to secure their systems, then they risk losing business to their competitors. As we move into a new decade, therefore, we are likely to see much wider adoption of biometrics, and particularly fingerprints, in the securing of systems, transactions and more.

The previous post in our series on when fingerprints are best looked at biometric authentication and protecting sensitive information.