Why Device Level Biometrics Do Not Equate to Identity

Robert MacDonald

Passwordless authentication is becoming a hot topic in the identity verification field as capabilities are becoming more and more sophisticated. To eliminate passwords the market has shifted to authenticate their identities using geolocation, social network accounts, and other types of MFA methods. But two of the most common factors used today are face or touch recognition. The proliferation of compatible devices means this form of biometric authentication is becoming more widely used across businesses, the mobile phone is undoubtedly leading the way in terms of consumer acceptance.

What Are Device Level Fingerprint and Facial Recognition Biometrics?

  • Fingerprint: Many mobile devices, from tablets to smartphones, already come with fingerprint scanners that can read this form of biometric. Fingerprint scanners are relatively easy to implement and have become a common form of authentication for access to physical devices and as part of multi-factor authentication solutions.
  • Facial Recognition: Modern iPhones and many laptops have migrated to facial scans. An embedded camera will take a facial picture or video as input and compare it against unique scanning information.

What Are the Limitations of Device Level Biometrics?

When you log in with facial scans or fingerprints you are not proving identity. For example, it is quite possible to add multiple faces to the Face ID on your iPhone. What is the issue with this? The issue is if there are multiple faces that can log into one Face ID, you do not know who the user is behind that authentication.

How Can Live Biometrics Overcome the Limitations of Device Level Biometrics?

Live biometrics like Live ID by 1Kosmos essentially challenge the user to prove their liveness. LiveID is used for account enrollment and onboarding to ensure that the user is real, human, and not a bot or somebody trying to spoof the identity.
When enrolling a user, LiveID leverages the front-facing camera on the mobile device (selfie camera) and records a video of the user. Once LiveID has determined the user is real in front of the camera, LiveID will capture a “selfie” of the user.
For authentication, LiveID will again make sure that the person in front of the mobile device is live, capture a selfie to ensure an identity match, and authenticate the user.

What Are Some of the Key Advantages of Authenticating with Advanced Biometrics vs Device Level Biometrics?

High Accuracy

Biometric authentication systems employ unique physical characteristics to quickly, consistently, and accurately identify persons. In a wide range of government entities, banks, and financial institutions, they have already become critical for identity verification.
Biometric systems provide a higher level of security than traditional methods of authentication, such as passwords, since biometric traits are difficult to spoof or steal. Biometric authentication technology has a high degree of accuracy when it comes to identifying people, such as workers and consumers.


Behavioral and physical factors used for biometric verification are not vulnerable to damage and unexpected alterations. As a result, biometric verification is a reliable and consistent method of identifying.
Because it accesses specific aspects of the individual to recognize them for reliable verification, biometric authentication is also quick, user-friendly, difficult to counterfeit, affordable, and requires almost no user training.

Multiple Use Cases

Biometric technology is already in use in a number of nations for voter registration, national identification, national healthcare, and e-passports, and it may be extended to a wide range of sectors and applications.
Biometric authentication has shown to be one of the finest and most appropriate options for authenticating users in remote user access and card not present transactions. Identity verification for new account creation, security logins to prevent account takeover, and protecting financial transactions from fraud are the most common use cases.

Are you interested in learning more about authenticating with advanced biometrics? I encourage you to read our LiveID datasheet.

A Customer First Approach to Identity Based Authentication
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Meet the Author

Robert MacDonald

Vice President of Product Marketing

Robert is the Vice President of Product Marketing at 1Kosmos. He is a highly influential senior global marketer with more than 15 years of marketing experience in B2B and B2C software in the biometric authentication space. Prior to 1Kosmos, Rob managed product strategy and vision for the Identity and Access Management portfolio at Micro Focus, leading a team of product marketers to drive sales and support the channel. Earlier in his career he set the foundation for content planning, sales enablement and GTM activities for ForgeRock. He has also held senior marketing positions at Entrust, Dell, Quest and Corel Corporation.