There are many options when it comes to cybersecurity: implementing complex password policies and establishing multi-factor authentication processes. And while all of these alternatives are good ways to increase your business security, biometrics still provide some of the safest alternatives.
One that’s becoming increasingly popular is facial recognition. From the surface, it looks like an effective way to keep unauthorized parties at bay. But how does it work? And what are their benefits over other types of restricted access?
What is Facial Recognition Technology?
Facial recognition is a form of inheritance authentication — the kind that requires biometrics. In this case, the features on your face. It is significantly more secure than traditional forms of security (such as passwords and card readers), since it is much harder to replicate.
This type of technology is also more efficient than other forms of authenticating a person’s identity, since it doesn’t require them to remember logging information or worry about lost, stolen, or forgotten entry cards.
How Does Facial Recognition Work?
When using facial recognition technology, you first have to take a photograph or video footage of all individuals you want to authorize to access files. These images are then stored in the software’s database, including information regarding the shape of the person’s face, skin texture, and distance between eyes and nose, forehead to chin, etc.
Once a face is mapped, it creates a “facial signature.” When an authorized individual tries to access data, a face scanning device scans their face and simultaneously compares it with potential matches in its database. Once their identity is verified, access is granted.
By the same token, facial recognition technology can also be used for identification purposes. For example, law enforcement could take the image of an unknown person and compare it to a database of known individuals.
How Accurate is Facial Recognition?
In most instances, the accuracy of facial recognition technology is near perfect. In fact, a study published by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology states that in a population size of 12 million people, the miss rate was approximately 0.1% — and these were mostly attributed to poor image quality, facial injuries, or long-run aging.
However, this accuracy could decrease when using a low quality image for identification purposes — such as those taken from surveillance video, or when the subject in the image was not looking directly at the camera.
Benefits of Facial Recognition
For purposes of protecting your business data, facial recognition technology comes with a long list of benefits and advantages.
It’s More Secure
While passwords are still widely used to screen out unauthorized users, they are insecure and impractical. Phishing attacks are getting increasingly sophisticated, making it easy for hackers to obtain your login credentials. They can also be either guessed, tracked with keylogging surveillance, or cracked through brute force attack.
Even if your company has robust password policies — such as using password generator software, changing them regularly, and requiring two-factor authentication — if a person loses access to their generator or forgets their password, they have to go through a process of recovery, then coming up with a different (previously unused) password.
It’s More Efficient
Facial recognition is non-invasive and doesn’t require anything from the user other than simply glancing at a camera for a second. This allows your team to be productive and work seamlessly throughout the day, without constant interruptions that come from logging in and out of accounts.
It Can Be Used Seamlessly Across Devices
Whether you’re using your personal or work computer, phone, or tablet, facial recognition allows you to focus your attention on the task at hand. This eliminates the time lag that comes from switching devices. And if you’re working remotely or at a public location, Smart Eye Technology can also spot unauthorized third parties who may be standing behind you and immediately block their view of sensitive data.
It Makes It Easier to Comply With Regulations
If you work within the legal, banking, finance, or healthcare industries, you are well aware of the myriad of regulations that require strict adherence to privacy practices. Failing to comply with them can lead to sanctions, fines, a loss of business licenses, and in a worst case scenario, criminal prosecution. Facial recognition makes it less likely that clients and patients’ sensitive information could be compromised.
It’s User Friendly
Most identity verification technologies come with a learning curve. However, facial recognition simply requires a person to stand in front of a camera or screen to be scanned. No need for downtime to learn how to use it.
It’s Extremely Helpful in Criminal Investigations
Facial recognition provides law enforcement agencies with more viable ways of finding perpetrators of crime, as well as missing victims. They can take surveillance imaging to compare against their existing database or to predict how a kidnapping victim could look years later. More sophisticated technologies also provide real-time alerts.
In addition to these baseline benefits of facial recognition, this type of security is ideal for certain types of industries that have unique security requirements, as described below.
Facial Recognition in Banking Industry
The banking industry is subject to federal banking laws, FDIC, consumer protection, and the Volcker Rule, to name a few. And while each law is nuanced and covers different aspects of the industry, they also require privacy safeguards across the board.
In addition, banking entities can be vulnerable to crimes such as identity theft and other types of fraud. Facial recognition offers a reliable way to authenticate customers at any point of service — bank branches, ATMs, and online banking.
Certain banks also use this type of technology to immediately identify VIP customers and provide a personalized experience based on stored data associated with their face landmarks. And in instances where criminals linger in front of a camera — such as at an ATM location — facial recognition software can make it easier to identify the person.
Facial Recognition in Retail Industry Shopping
Just as with banking, facial recognition can be used in the retail industry for many purposes. These include frictionless pay — such as the system implemented at Amazon Go stores — self-service checkout, and an enhanced shopping experience for VIP customers.
These technologies can also be used to heighten cybersecurity within retail employees by requiring this form of log in at cash registers. In addition, facial recognition can be incorporated into time clocks — which eliminates the issue of having one co-worker clocking in for another whenever a friend is late or absent. It also provides a contactless and more sanitary way to clock in post-pandemic.
Facial Recognition at Airports
Anyone who has traveled internationally is familiar with the pains that come from standing in long lines at passport control. And while this reality may still exist when you travel during high seasons, facial recognition technology enables this process to move along much faster.
Lay your passport on the scanner, look at the screen, and the machine recognizes whether you’re a match in a more efficient way than an airport employee looking at you and your photo repeatedly. It also makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to prevent criminals from fleeing the country — or alerting them of criminals entering a new jurisdiction.
Risks of Facial Recognition
As with any technology or other identity verification methods, facial recognition also comes with several risks, including:
Whenever a business gathers customer data for loyalty programs and personalized shopping or banking experiences, you’re trusting them to keep sensitive information safe. This is a major concern, since hackers who gain access to facial recognition data would be able to steal users’ identities with great ease.
So if you’re implementing this type of technology, you should also establish heightened cybersecurity practices, such as secure sensitive file sharing, continuous biometric authentication, multi-factor biometric authentication, self-protecting data technology, and advanced enterprise governance — which gives you real-time visibility into all your data within your platform. (All of these advanced features are available as Smart Eye solutions).
While facial recognition is highly reliable, it’s not infallible. Bad lighting, wrong angles, crowded spaces, and even the individuals’ race could result in flawed facial recognition in criminal investigations.
One of the biggest examples of such concerns occurred when Amazon’s facial recognition technologies falsely identified 28 members of the United States Congress as people who have been arrested for committing crimes.
Therefore, this type of technology is safer to use within a business cybersecurity context, where you have more control over identifying images of employees and other authorized users.
Arguments About Its Constitutionality
When it comes to cybersecurity, users are voluntarily allowing facial recognition technologies to scan their face. However, this issue becomes murky when the conversation shifts to individuals entering public spaces, such as stores. The 4th Amendment establishes an individual’s right to be secure in their person (among other things) against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Facial recognition surveillance poses the question of whether such technologies (and the data that it gathers) constitutes a violation of such constitutional protections. Issues of policing — along with concerns of biases — are widely argued by civil rights organizations and studied by legal scholars.
Protect Your Network With Smart Eye Technology
At Smart Eye Technology, we provide powerful, comprehensive, and affordable cybersecurity measures across all devices, including facial recognition technologies. We also make things simple by allowing you to control all implemented solutions and tools from one single platform.
Contact us or schedule a demo to see how we can help you protect your network.