Mobile Biometrics Authentication: Definition & Best Practices
Published at January 09, 2023

As more people use smartphones, biometrics authentication as a mobile security solution is becoming more popular. Biometrics improve user experience and are less complex than typing passwords.

Relying on your login and password to secure your account is long gone. Companies need to create new methods of securing their user devices and accounts due to the rise in the number and complexity of cyberattacks.

For instance, users' mobile applications are accustomed to using alternate forms of biometrics authentication, such as facial recognition, and fingerprints, which are gradually replacing passwords.

Malaysia experienced a significant rise in internet scams over the past two years due to the pandemic. A total of 71.833 scams totalling more than RM 5.2 billion in losses were reported between 2020 and May 2022, according to the Royal Malaysian Police's (PDRM) Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) through Tech Wire Asia.

Further, the advance in biometrics helps users to save their personal security on mobile devices. Let’s look at biometrics below:

What is biometrics?

Biometrics is the measurement of biological or behavioural traits used to identify specific people. The majority of these characteristics are inherited and cannot be predicted or taken, according to Geeksforgeeks.

A biometric system is one that examines an individual's physiological, behavioural, or both characteristics as input and determines whether they are a trustworthy or dishonest user.

Before being used for authentication, the biometric feature must be accessible to everyone in the community through the database, known as enrolment.

To use biometrics in mobile devices, most recent smartphones, which use Apple, Android, and Microsoft technology, are now equipped with sophisticated digital sensors like touch screens, cameras, fingerprint scanners, and microphones that help with user authentication.

There are two steps of authentication namely:

  1. Identification: Comparing a person's traits to all of their records to determine whether their record is present in the database.
  2. Verification: To ensure that the individual is who they say they are. In this case, only the characteristics of the individual who makes a claim are matched with the characteristics of the person in question.

Two types of biometrics as mobile security

The categories of biometrics are physiological biometrics and behavioural biometrics.

1. Physical biometrics

Physical biometrics, also known as physical identification such as a fingerprint or retina scan, refers to physiological characteristics of the human body that can be used as identification.

For a variety of purposes, security being the most obvious, businesses frequently gather and store physical biometric data to validate identities.

Facial recognition technology can identify high rollers in a casino to enhance their patrons' experience. This is just one example of how physical biometric identification has various applications.

2. Behavioural biometrics

The term “behavioural biometrics” describes any user-specific pattern of behaviour, such as the rhythm and cadence with which they typically type on a computer keyboard.

Software using behavioural biometrics, such as that used to assist in preventing online scams, can quickly adapt to the way a user interacts with a human-computer interface device, such as how fast they press a particular key on a keyboard, how they use a mouse, how they swipe the screen, or how they hold a mobile device.

Best practices of mobile biometrics authentication

Here are some biometrics as a mobile security example use cases, according to NCSC UK.

1. To unlock your mobile device

Unlocking mobile phones and other gadgets is one of the most popular uses of biometric authentication. Mobile devices come with various unlocking modalities that are now often used.

One of the first biometrics to be advertised on mobile devices was fingerprint recognition, although not as a security function, but rather as a convenience benefit.

However, using a biometric system in this situation has only recently begun to be viewed as a security element. The emphasis on evaluating the technology's performance has increased due to this change in goal.

2. Apps Access

Online apps are increasingly relying on mobile devices' biometric capabilities to facilitate identity authentication during transaction processing or log-in. For example, mobile banking and fintech use biometrics to do transaction processing or log in.

Biometrics as mobile security is already built into the device, such as a fingerprint sensor connected to the host device's hardware security features. The device's or API's answer in this case is often only “pass” or “fail”.

As an alternative, a biometric can be obtained through one of the device's other sensors, such as the microphone or camera for voice recognition.

Further, the data can be transferred for more involved remote processing. This transfers responsibility for the biometric data's security to the service provider and makes it possible to update the processing algorithms.

3. Automated border control (eGates)

The current security procedures for travellers travelling by air demand them to identify themselves or validate a previously declared identification at a number of contact points. The most popular way is to inspect documents, such as passports physically.

However, there is a significant effort underway to boost travel efficiency. This reflects the requirement to facilitate a higher throughput of travellers and ensure that costly security resources can be concentrated on the situations where they are needed, allowing most travellers to enjoy travel with more flexibility.

4. Information provision for call centres

Because the communications channel already records voice information, voice biometrics are considered suitable for use in identity verification when calling a call centre.

The number from which the call was placed is likewise known to call centres, thus only one or a small number of known voices may be anticipated for each phone number.

The majority of these systems use text-dependent speaker recognition, which means that the identity of the caller is confirmed using a passphrase that has been repeated repeatedly.

Wrapping up

Mobile biometrics authentication offers an effective and secure solution for mobile security. As a reliable authentication system, it prevents unauthorised access to confidential information stored on mobile devices.

Your business needs to consider using biometric security measures as part of its overall mobile security strategy. By working with VirtualSpirit, a leading mobile development agency in Malaysia, your companies will have access to the advanced technology and expertise needed to ensure your mobile applications are properly secure.

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