Biometrics is a method of identifying people based on their physical or behavioral characteristics. Biometric authentication is applying this method to safeguard access to applications.
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Traditional biometric authentication measures and analyzes the biological characteristics of a person to verify their request. Login security solutions that employ this method first store user biometric data and then, at each login attempt, check it against biometric authentication factors, such as a fingerprint. This approach has clear advantages over the text-based approach (passwords). Unlike passwords, biometric factors cannot be lost or forgotten. What is more, biometric authentication is impervious to methods used for cracking passwords. Another advantage of biometrics is the practically frictionless login process. A user does not need to type, click, or plug anything. They simply touch the fingerprint sensor or look at the camera, and the device authenticates immediately. The logins are instantaneous, which frees up the IT helpdesk from having to reset passwords repeatedly.
Something that used to be reserved for science fiction movies has quickly become a standard that most users have not even realized they adopted in their everyday lives. People unlock their phones by tapping the screen or a key with a fingerprint sensor. They unlock their devices by simply looking at them and letting the camera do the authentication for them. This standard has been adopted by most smartphone companies and works on most operating systems. Now, it is slowly making its way into enterprise software as well.
Mobile devices and laptops can easily be used as local biometric authenticators thanks to the WebAuthn or FIDO2 authentication standard created by the World Wide Web Organization. The standard lets enterprises turn any company smartphone or laptop into an authenticating device, which may bring a significant improvement to workflow and business processes. Furthermore, FIDO2 is a great solution for securing remote work, which means both employees working at the office, as well as those who work remotely, can enjoy the same high level of security.
The word “biometrics” usually brings to mind fingerprint and eye scanners as well as face or voice recognition technology. While these are legitimate methods of biometric authentication, there is another side to biometrics called behavioral biometrics.
The difference between traditional and behavioral biometrics is that the latter authenticates continuously. It constantly monitors the users’ behavior within the application and tracks suspicious patterns. This is to make sure that the users who logged in behave like themselves. Users who act in an unusual way can be restricted from accessing further data or logged off until their identity is verified again.
Biometric authentication is often used as a major component of modern multi-factor authentication. The more security layers stand between users and applications, the more difficulty hackers face while trying to breach the organizations’ network.
While biometric authentication is much safer than passwords, relying solely on it could an enterprise in danger. For this reason, it is usually added as a second layer of security, next to passwords. Therefore, biometric authentication is a great security measure to take, as long as it is not the only one.
Biometric authentication is another approach to safeguarding data access that is a stronger alternative to passwords. Biometrics is becoming increasingly popular as the second authentication factor (in the two-factor authentication approach), with the first factor being passwords.
Why add biometric authentication to the login process? Because passwords are very unreliable in securing organization databases. Employees create weak and easy-to-guess passwords, such as “12345”, “password”, or names of their kids, spouses, or pets.
Instead of using words and numbers, biometric authentication uses physiological factors, such as a fingerprint, an iris, a voice, or a face, to strengthen authentication and secure access. These factors cannot be guessed. Biometric authentication solutions are often seen as the first step to passwordless authentication and are used as one of the factors in multi-factor authentication.
In the enterprise environment, biometric authentication often includes the use of some hardware authenticator. Security teams frequently incorporate hard tokens, such as FIDO2-based security keys, or local authenticators, such as smartphones and laptops that support the FIDO2 standard. With phones and laptops adapted via WebAuthn to be local authenticators, employees can use biometrics to log in. They can also use FIDO2 security keys, which are small security tokens equipped with fingerprint sensors.
Biometric authentication solutions can significantly improve remote work security. The FIDO2 standard allows organizations to take advantage of company hardware and use it as biometric authenticators. Nowadays, every smartphone and laptop has a built-in camera or fingerprint scanner, so they can be used as an authenticating device. Biometric authentication solutions are often integrated with privileged access management (PAM) tools and IAM platforms to ensure the most comprehensive authentication policies possible.
Biometric authentication, or any other authentication standard, can be easily deployed on any enterprise application with User Access Security Broker. The deployment is scalable, which means that this strong authentication can be activated on any application in the same way, without any software development. Biometric authentication can also be used for microauthorization, which adds another layer of security. Enabling microauthorizations is a way to ensure that the session is continued by the user who logged in initially.
Demo showing how to deploy any strong authentication method using the User Access Security Broker approach:
Before investing in Secfense, we had the opportunity to talk to its existing clients. Their reactions were unanimous: wow, it’s so easy to use. We were particularly impressed by the fact that implementing their solution does not require the involvement of IT developers. It gives Secfense a huge advantage over the competition, and at the same time opens the door to potential customers who so far were afraid of changes related to the implementation of multi-factor authentication solutions.
Even when the network and infrastructure are secured enough, social engineering and passwords can be used to gain control of the system by attackers. Multifactor authentication is the current trend. Secfense addresses this and allows you to build zero trust security and upgrade your current systems to passwordless applications within minutes, solving this problem right away,” said Eduard Kučera, Partner at Presto Ventures and cybersecurity expert – former Director in hugely successful Czech multinational cyber security firm Avast.
One of the biggest challenges the world is facing today is securing our identity online. That’s why we were so keen to have Secfense in our portfolio. They make it possible to introduce strong authentication in an automated way. Until now, organizations had to selectively protect applications because the deployment of new technology was very hard, or even impossible. With Secfense, the implementation of multi-factor authentication is no longer a problem, and all organizations can use the highest standards of authentication security.
We are faced with new challenges every day. We must always be one step ahead of the attackers and know what they are going to do before they do it. We are convinced that the User Access Security Broker will bring security to a new level, both for those working at the office and from home. For us, working with Secfense is an opportunity to exchange experience with developers who put great value on out-of-the-box thinking.
Business Continuity and Computer Security Officer
BNP Paribas Bank Poland
Two-factor authentication is known to be one of the best ways to protect against phishing; however, its implementation has always been difficult. Secfense helped us solve that problem. With their security broker, we were able to introduce various 2FA methods on our web applications at once.
Head of IT