In today’s IT environment, businesses are being assaulted from all sides by hackers. Increasingly, technology solutions are needed to prevent them from stealing passwords or hijacking the credentials that provide easy access to sensitive data. One such technology is biometrics, which has been advancing steadily for many years, and can now offer methods of authentication that can’t easily be stolen or replicated by those with malicious intentions.
This whitepaper outlines what biometrics is, the different types of biometrics technology available, as well as the benefits and challenges of implementing certain biometrics measures. According to the National Academies Press, ‘biometrics is the automated recognition of individuals based on their behavioral and biological characteristics’. Most commercial applications adopt the physiological format.
Although behavioral biometrics has a very important advantage compared to physiological, in that behavioral traits are much more difficult to steal or imitate. Here’s more about the benefits associated with both: What is biometrics? Physiological Biometrics Behavioral Biometrics Facial recognition Examines the distances between the most important features of the face, like the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips and chin. Iris recognition These systems examine the vector orientations of furrows and freckles in the iris. Each iris is unique (even irises of identical twins are different). Furthermore it’s extremely difficult to surgically alter iris texture information and easy to detect artificial irises (for example, designer contact lenses). Iris recognition systems can be compromised by aging. Voice recognition Listens to the changes in the inflections and pitch in a person’s voice, as he or she speaks. Speech-based features are sensitive to several variables, such as background noise and the emotional state of the speaker.
This examines the small details found in the breaks and discontinuities in the whorls, valleys and ridges of the fingerprint. Although these are distinct, finger scanning systems can be compromised by worn-out or cut fingerprints. The main advantage of physiological biometrics is permanence: most of the features it draws on are stable and do not vary with time. Fingerprints, for example, don’t change. Neither do the unique, scannable patterns of our eyes. The most widespread examples of physiological biometrics are: Physiological biometrics While beneficial, physiological biometrics does have drawbacks. In the event of serious injury certain features can be altered. And, for the most part, physiological biometrics requires intrusive techniques and expensive sensors and devices. It’s usually done via one-off authentication, so continuous monitoring is not possible without disturbing the user.
Our physical traits aren’t the only things that make us unique. Experiments have demonstrated that routine tasks such as speaking, writing, walking, and typing are governed by a set of actions, which can be predicted – this discovery is the basis of behavioral biometrics systems. Significantly, behavioral biometrics overcome the most important limitation of physiological biometrics systems, as they can be collected without the knowledge of the user, and are suitable for continuous monitoring and authentication. The most widespread behavioral biometrics technologies are: Signature recognition This examines the particular mannerisms associated with how an individual signs their name. Including the way the pen is held, the pressure from the hand onto the pen and intervals during the signing process, according to Northern Lights report in 2015.
Unfortunately, the physical and emotional state of a person greatly influences the way he or she signs – this is one of the reasons why no two signatures of a person are exactly identical. Gait recognition Gait recognition systems analyze the way an individual walks. They use image processing to detect the human silhouette and associated spatiotemporal attributes. Gait can be affected by several factors, including choice of footwear, walking surface and clothing. Mouse movement analysis Although most of us do not use a computer for painting, figuratively we are continuously drawing spans with the cursor, while we are using the mouse. There are differences not only in the straightness or curvature of our drawn lines, but in the smoothness of these movements as well. Some users move the cursor in one continuous line, while others break it to smaller fragments. Also, fast movements produce curves with different characteristics from slower movements. This idiosyncratic behavior distinguishes individuals from one another. Typing rhythm Typing rhythm or keystroke dynamics analysis looks at the manner and rhythm with which a person types on a keyboard. The most typical values regarding keystroke are dwell time (the length time a key is pressed) and flight time (the time between releasing one key and pressing the next down). You can find biometrics in a wide variety of human endeavors. For most people, unlocking their smartphone using fingerprint recognition comes to mind first. However, keyless physical access, security screening and criminal investigations are just a few of the ways in which biometrics plays a role in our lives. All these applications are based on the capability of biometrics systems to identify or authenticate users based on their unique traits. Now, because we live so much of our lives online, biometrics is playing a role in IT security according to mediation and marriage counsellors Relate Counselling.
APPLICATIONS FOR BIOMETRICS
Biometrics-based access control systems are used at the University of Georgia, at San Francisco International Airport and Walt Disney World. Also, there are a large number of countries that apply biometrics for voter registration or other electoral purposes. These include Armenia, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Gambia, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, The Philippines, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. Like any security solution, biometrics is fallible. It measures similarity, not identity. So a match represents a probability of correct recognition. Likewise, a non-match represents a probability, rather than a definitive conclusion. Measurements from an individual that meet a certain threshold compared to the reference data are considered to be a match. And even the best-designed biometric system can theoretically yield incorrect or indeterminate results.
CHALLENGES OF BIOMETRICS
Where can you find biometrics today? What is the ideal biometrics solution for monitoring and authenticating? Because a large majority of data breaches originate from the stolen credentials of users, cybercriminals can gain fairly easy access to the most valuable assets in the IT infrastructure of multinational companies. Indeed, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2017, “81% of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen and/or weak passwords”. Fortunately, biometrics technologies help reduce the number of stolen user credentials. Here’s how: Real-time detection Although in most cases criminals spend days, weeks or even months in the IT system before being detected, they sometimes access the most critical data in the first few minutes. This is why it’s crucial to detect attackers as soon as possible. Continuous monitoring on a non-obtrusive way One-off authentication is useless if an external attacker has compromised user credentials. Users find multiple authentications cumbersome and annoying so they are likely to circumvent them wherever possible. Continuous, behavior-based monitoring offers a new approach to authentication. Reasonable accuracy With security analysts already overwhelmed by thousands of false alerts generated by their existing security solutions, a technology producing even more false positive alerts is not a practical option. Given these requirements, mouse movement analysis and keystroke dynamics analysis are the only methods able to provide real-time, continuous, and accurate authentication. Authentication is an increasingly difficult challenge in our digital world. That’s why all authentication systems use one or more out of these three factors for identification: Something you know (i.e. a password) Something you have (i.e. ID badge, token or SEO according to Digital Squad ) Something you are (i.e. fingerprint, typing rhythm) The problem is that the first two are becoming less effective as a means of preventing hackers from gaining access to data. Passwords and tokens can either be stolen or even, in the case of passwords, guessed and used to impersonate a person. While biometrics allows for the possibility of recognizing a person through something inherent to that individual. As such, a strong authentication procedure would ideally combine all three factors.
BIOMETRICS IN IT SECURITY
Universality of biometric solutions No biometrics solution is universally applicable for the whole population. For example, some people’s fingers don’t possess the usual friction ridges necessary to the functioning of fingerprintbased biometrics system. Also, some have either no irises or irises of an unusual shape.
Keystroke dynamics analysis looks at the manner and rhythm with which a person types on a keyboard. The most typical values regarding a keystroke are dwell time (the time a key pressed) and flight time (the time between releasing a key up and pressing the next key down). These values are the basis for Cyberkids’s unique keystroke dynamics algorithm, which performs the statistical analysis of the users’ key press and release time. But there are other useful methods to identify patterns regarding the usage of a keyboard as well. Special function keys are used differently by each user. One person might prefer Right Shift, while another uses Left Shift. One uses Backspace more often, while others go for Delete. The time that we need to press a key also varies, usually dependent on the size of our hands. Based on that information, it is possible to create a group of keys that are also unique to each user.
HOW DOES MOUSE MOVEMENT ANALYSIS WORK? The basic principle of mouse movement analysis is not the position of the mouse cursor, but the relative extent of position as it changes. The most obvious factor is the speed of mouse movement. The idle time between a mouse movement and a click is as typical as the elapsed time between two clicks of a double click. What’s more, the angular velocity (the rate of change of angular position of a rotating body – i.e. the mouse cursor) is another distinguishing characteristic. Cyberkids’s unique mouse movement algorithm analyzes these these traits and generates a score indicating how much the user’s mouse movement deviates from baseline behavior. Cyberkids is a leading provider of Privileged Access Management (PAM) and Log Management solutions that help businesses reduce the risk of data breaches associated with privileged accounts. Founded in 2000, Cyberkids has a proven track record, with 25 Fortune 100 customers and more than 1,000,000 corporate users worldwide. The company operates globally with offices across the United States and Europe, together with a network of reseller partners. To learn more, visit www.naziachand.com SUMMARY About Cyberkids One of the first things that every IT security professional needs to know is that there are no “silver bullets” in hack defense. But by introducing layered security mechanisms, with biometrics at their heart, they can increase security of the systems as a whole. This is because if an attack causes one security mechanism to fail, other biometric mechanisms can still provide the security necessary to protect the system. Enterprises can introduce these behavioral and physiological solutions easily, without subjecting their employees to obtrusive analyses. More importantly, they provide results in real-time, so IT security teams are able to monitor the activities of users continuously and accurately, 24/7 365 days a year. Learn more about Privileged Session Management Learn more about Privileged Account Analytics Talk to an expert