Biometrics: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

As artificial intelligence becomes more commonplace in both cybersecurity and cybercriminal behavior, security experts are developing new and innovative ways to verify user identities. Proving that you’re really the account owner has become more and more necessary as cybercriminals develop practices like deepfaking to disguise people in video or picture and fool AI recognition.

Multi-factor authentication is an increasingly common practice for secure platforms. It essentially requires the user to verify that they are who they say they are, through some external means. Think of Face ID, touch scans, one-time passwords and security questions. These are all ways to prove that you have the right to access your private accounts. In the sense that you use it near-daily, you’re already familiar with biometric authentication.

What is Biometric Authentication?

Biometrics simply refers to the process of identifying you based on recognizable, personal data. You can thus authenticate your access to accounts through that same recognition software. No one else has your face so they can’t get into your smartphone, for example.

It doesn’t only refer to face ID. You could also consider your thumbprint in the same class of data. Nowadays, iPhones scan your face as an alternative to entering your passcode but the smartphones of old would rely on a fingerprint scan. To set this feature up, you’d have to enter your fingerprint from a few different angles so the device could verify you from a variety of careless taps.

Face ID uses the same concept to store and recognize images of your face to let you into your smartphone now. If you’re a fan of old spy movies or have bought your kids an electronic journal, you’ve probably seen examples of voice identification too. Even the unique way that you talk can be a form of biometric identification!

Obstacles to Biometric Expansion

Despite the uses, there is still hesitation on making this kind of technology more widespread. For starters, many individuals worry about their privacy, given so much personal identifying information being stored away where it could be potentially sold or hacked into. It’s also an expensive investment for businesses to make in the first place.

What if you get a scar, wear makeup, use glasses or change your hair? All this also makes it more difficult for biometric software to work as effectively, which is a huge downside that does not account for relatively normal human behaviors. Face ID is also somewhat known for being much less accurate amongst racially diverse groups. All of these disadvantages have stopped biometric identification from being wholly accepted by the public, whose enthusiasm is crucial for industry growth.

Why Companies Use Biometric Authentication

As a form of multi-factor authentication, biometrics are a nearly-unmatched way to prove someone’s identity. Of course, you still have to be wary. It’s now a semi-common sitcom joke to have someone’s partner crack into their phone while the person is sleeping, by just holding the phone up to scan their face.

Nevertheless, biometrics are a great way to protect user privacy in the office (and hopefully no one is falling asleep on the job anyway!) and so remain a commonly-used tool for businesses to secure their, and their employees’, confidential information. It reduces identity theft and fraud, especially when the authentication software uses multiple characteristics in its assessment, like verifying both retina and face scans. All of these are difficult to duplicate and easy to authenticate, making them preferable for busy office workers who might need to log in and out of multiple secure accounts throughout the day.


The field of biometric identification will likely keep advancing as AI keeps evolving, cybercriminals find new ways to trick these algorithms, and the needs of consumers change as new platforms and updates get released. Already, this technology is integrated in many organizations that deal with sensitive information and need to protect their databases. Companies are also investing in the research and development of biometric authentication systems so as to get ahead of the coming trends that will surely define the next stages of identity verification and security.

The future of biometric authentication will have to first address the serious consumer concerns currently stopping many people from using the software voluntarily. Until then, it will remain a viable option for businesses looking to get serious about their security standards.