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6 Oct, 2022

Is Face Recognition Better Than Biometric Fingerprint Security?

We’re in an era where technology is evolving rapidly and it is necessary to keep ourselves up to speed. There is so much exchange of information going on that we now need security systems for every place that stores any kind of data – physical or digital. Biometric fingerprint security has been the popular choice for a few years now, but an upgrade is definitely in order. With this blog, we understand face recognition vs fingerprint security and which method offers better protection from hackers and imposters.


Face Recognition Vs Fingerprint Security

Both these methods involve the use of our physical biometrics, and experts have acknowledged that among all forms of authentication technologies out there, biometric verification is by far the most effective. Biometric identifiers can’t be stolen, duplicated, or substituted. Of course, some biometric identifiers extend a more dependable experience than others; the efficacy of each of them depends on the area of application.

For understanding the difference between face recognition and biometric fingerprint effortlessly, let’s take the most common and easily accessible example for now – our smartphones.

Biometric Fingerprint Scanning

Let’s start by taking the example of smartphones. As per reports, the world’s first fingerprint phone was Pantech GI100, which launched back in 2004. Then, brands like Toshiba and HTC joined the bandwagon, but it wasn’t until the iPhone 5s that people truly started to feel the benefits of this technology. What Apple did was refine fingerprint recognition and provide better protection and security to truly associate biometric fingerprint scanning with identity verification.

To know more about the history of biometric fingerprint identification, click here.

Biometric Face Recognition

It was in 2005 that OMRON Corporation, a global leader in automation, sensing, and control technology introduced face recognition for the first time in PDAs, mobile phones, and other mobile devices with a camera function. Then with smartphone giants like Samsung tapping this technology, it continued to improve. It was again Apple that brought a new spotlight over face recognition for smartphones with the iPhone X. The company claims that it has kept security paramount while developing face recognition for its devices.

From the level of security, our smartphone is able to exercise, we can determine the efficacy of each of the two biometric methods. However, let’s clear the air regarding some of the most common doubts about using face recognition.

Is Face Recognition Safer Than Fingerprint?

It cannot be denied that COVID-19 has had an inevitable impact on people’s daily lives. There were many changes in behavior that were witnessed like wearing masks, consciously maintaining distance, not touching unfamiliar surfaces, etc. All of this influenced the preferences for using biometric systems, especially face recognition systems.

People wanted to avoid touching any surface for verification, and so, face recognition suddenly became very popular. Because this method of biometric authentication didn’t involve any kind of physical contact, face recognition got deemed to be a safer option than biometric fingerprint scanning.

Why did people’s preferences toward contactless access control systems, namely face recognition, increase after the Covid-19 pandemic? Click here to know in detail.

Is Face Recognition Really More Secure?

Well, knowing the answer to this question would require understanding how face recognition works.

In most systems, face recognition algorithms create a biometric template of an individual’s face by detecting and measuring various facial characteristics, including the location of the eyes and the space between them, the location of the eyebrows, nose, mouth, chin, and ears. When the actual face and the template are compared, they may or may not result in a match, indicating genuine identity verification.

On the other hand, an optical biometric fingerprint sensor works by shining a bright light over your fingerprint and taking a digital photo. The light-sensitive microchip makes the digital image by looking at the ridges and valleys of the biometric fingerprint, turning them into 1’s and 0’s, and creating the user’s own personal code. The disadvantage to this, while highly unlikely, is that a digital photo can be replicated.

In that sense, a face recognition system seems more secure.

However, research has shown that it’s possible for strangers who share similar facial features to an individual to end up gaining access in place of the actual person. There have been many debates about whether it is appropriate to use face recognition for personal identification as this is sensitive biometric information and can be used catastrophically if it falls into the wrong hands.

Even if we don’t consider these dire consequences for a second, the area of application and the volume of usage still is really critical factors to determine the level of security any system provides.

Can Face Recognition Be Stolen?

It is true that hackers and imposters try to use several means to bypass face recognition systems to gain unauthorized access to areas or utilities. But it is not as easy as hacking passwords or PINs. We’re not going to not lie; there have been instances in the past where face recognition failed, but it is pretty rare. With technological advancements, face recognition technology is now more intelligent than ever.

So, the answer to this question is that while we can’t explicitly strike out the security vulnerabilities of facial recognition, in today’s times, it is very difficult to steal an identity using face recognition.

Can Face recognition be fooled by a photo?

It was possible to fool the early versions of face recognition systems, but as mentioned above, it is not that easy now. Basically, since any individual’s facial biometric traits are not really a secret, attackers take advantage of those features and mimic them in the form of a photo, a mask, a video, using make-up, etc., to fool face recognition systems.

Face recognition systems nowadays are laced with many advanced anti-spoofing techniques that prevent these attacks. Smart sensors in the system can detect the difference between a live face and a photo and give an accurate result. Various recognition algorithms like specular feature projections, depth feature fusion, deep learning, etc., provide a robust fortification against spoofing attacks.

Face Recognition Vs Fingerprint Security: The Bottom Line

Both face recognition and biometric fingerprint are parts of physical biometric identifiers. Although they are considerably different from each other, both methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. We can’t say that one method can replace the other.

Face recognition is better for crowded areas, or in situations like the Covid-19 pandemic. Biometric fingerprint security can work better for personal identification and in small offices. Both are used for device unlocking, criminal investigations, access control, etc. Therefore, we can safely say that both these methods of biometric authentication work well within their ideal areas of application.

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