Fingerprint verification is one of the most widely recognizable biometric solutions, but how does it work? Keep reading to learn about this type of security.

What is fingerprint verification? Fingerprint verification uses a fingerprint scan to identify and verify that a user is who they say they are. Fingerprint authentication is the most popular way to use biometrics.

How Does Fingerprint Verification Work?

User authentication is a complex process, and similar terms are often used to refer to slightly different processes. Such is the case with finger scan identification.

To start, fingerprints are considered a form of biometric ID. These are biometric authentication methods that use the physical traits of the user to authenticate them against user records in a given system, including traits like the following:

  • Fingerprints
  • Iris traits
  • Facial characteristics
  • Voice characteristics

In this case, using fingerprints provides a high level of security. While it is technically possible for a pair of identical fingerprints to exist, it is highly, highly unlikely, and less likely to appear in any configuration that would threaten security significantly.

In its most basic form, fingerprint verification involves a user providing two pieces of information: an ID and a fingerprint scan. The ID can be something like a username or PIN to notify the system that a specific user is attempting to access the system.

The data comes from a scanner that can read and map the unique aspects of a fingerprint, including the ridges, valleys, whorls, patterns, and other unique characteristics, and translate that into digital data. Then that information is used as a way to verify users.

However, it’s important to note that verification is different from fingerprint identification:

  1. Fingerprint Identification is the process of taking a user’s fingerprint and comparing it against a database to determine its link with a user. For example, we’ve all seen police procedurals that include software that scans fingerprints to find a match in a police database. That’s identification.
  2. Fingerprint Verification is the use of data along with a form of identification to determine that the user is who they claim to be.

The difference seems slight, but they change the application of the technology immensely. In the latter (verification), the user is actively attempting to access a system and, accordingly, provides some sort of credential to do so. The biometric scan is checked against a specific fingerprint associated with that identity, and if they don’t match, then access is denied. The fingerprint may exist in the system, but if the specific combination of ID and fingerprint are not provided, then there is no match.

Why Is Fingerprint Verification Important for Businesses?

Verification is an incredibly useful piece of technology for several reasons, all of which can streamline and simplify how you authenticate users inside your organization and outside of it (like clients or customers).

Verification is important because it provides the following benefits:

  • Strengthened Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): With a combination of passwords or PINs and scans, you can bolster your authentication security simply by way of introducing biometric MFA. Biometrics are notoriously hard to fake or steal, and even if they are, the hacker must still provide some sort of physical artifact to pass a scan. That’s on top of the fact that a hacker or algorithm isn’t going to guess biometric data through brute-force attacks.
  • Reduced IT Costs: While verification can cost money to implement in terms of software and hardware, it can, in the long run, help eliminate common IT problems like lost passwords. Using biometric authentication, you can automate password recovery or even implement passwordless authentication systems.
  • Mobile Employees, Customers, and Clients: Most modern mobile devices, including many laptops, smartphones, and tablets include some sort of biometric scanner, sometimes multiple scanners. MacBook Pros and the 2021 versions of iMac Pros include some form of facial or fingerprint scanning. Modern Windows computers often have both. Smartphones and tablets will almost always include a fingerprint or face scanner as well.

With that in mind, having scanning as part of your authentication and verification system can open up secure ways for your team to work remotely. Likewise, it can provide the security you need to interact with customers on their mobile devices for things like accepting payments (PCI compliance) or supporting advanced security technologies.

There are some limitations to biometric verification:

  • Non-Transferability: A fingerprint is immutable. If your account is compromised or something needs changing, then it is a much larger task that could require new fingerprints from other fingers or some other physical verification method.
  • Expense: While verification is probably one of the more cost-effective biometric tools to include as part of your authentication system, it still costs more than your typical password system. This might be a major turn-off for smaller organizations looking to maintain lower costs (although this is less of a concern as technology becomes cheaper).
  • Not Touch-Free: As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, there is a great value in having touchless systems that don’t involve public exposure. While this is less a problem on personal phones, it becomes much more of a problem for public computers or laptops.

While there are some drawbacks to verification, more often than not, they are useful, cost-effective, and secure forms of MFA that can support your IT and compliance strategies.

Passwordless Authentication with 1Kosmos and BlockID

A strong combination of mobile devices, advanced biometrics (like fingerprint verification), and blockchain technology serve at the heart of the BlockID platform. With BlockID, your organization can implement secure fingerprint or facial recognition verification coupled with completely secure, peer-to-peer identity storage.

BlockID includes features like:

  • KYC compliance: BlockID Verify is KYC compliant to support eKYC verification that meets the demands of the financial industry.
  • Strong compliance adherence: BlockID Verify meets standards like NIST 800 63-3 for Identity Assurance Level 2 (IAL2) and Authentication Assurance Level 2 (AAL2).
  • Incorruptible Blockchain Technology: Store user data in protected blockchains with simple and secure API integration for your apps and IT infrastructure.
  • Zero-trust security: BlockID Verify is a cornerstone for a zero-trust framework, so you can ensure user authentication happens at every potential access point.
  • Liveness Tests: BlockID includes liveness tests to improve verification and minimize potential fraud. With these tests, our application can determine that the user is physically present at the point of authentication.

If you’re ready to learn about BlockID and how it can help you remain compliant and secure, learn more about what it takes to Go Beyond Passwordless Solutions. Make sure you sign up for the 1Kosmos email newsletter for updates on products and events.