Biometric Authentication: Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages

Biometric authentication is a way to check that a person is who they say they are by looking at one or more physical traits that are unique to that person. These characteristics could include a fingerprint, a facial scan, or the iris of an eye. To clarify, the idea behind authentication using biometrics is that it is much harder to forge or replicate these physical characteristics than to steal a password or a PIN number.

How Does the Biometric Authentication Work?

The biometric authentication system compares a sample of a user’s biometrics. It is compared with the data already stored in the system. Surely, it is to verify the identity of the user. Furthermore, the process typically involves the following steps:

  1. The user presents their biometric characteristic to the authentication system. Evidently, this could involve
    • Placing finger on a fingerprint scanner,
    • looking into a camera for a facial scan, or
    • speaking into a microphone for a voice recognition system.
  2. Firstly, the system captures the biometric sample. in general it happens by using bellow mentioned methods. Then, the system converts that data into a digital template. And then it compares a user’s biometrics to a stored sample in the database. This process confirms the user is who they say they are.
  3. Secondly, the system grants access if the templates match. In contrast, if the templates do not match, the system denies access. However, it may require the user to try again. Or use an alternative authentication method.

Of course, it’s essential to know that verification through biometrics systems can give wrong results. Sometimes it gives false positives or false negatives.

When the system incorrectly matches a person with the data stored, a false positive occurs.

On the contrary, false negatives refer to the wrong person being rejected as a non-match. 

This is why most biometric authentication systems have a threshold. It specifies how close the captured template must be to the stored template. It keeps them from making the same mistake twice.

Bio Metric authentication methods:

There are different types of identification using biometrics methods, including:

Fingerprint recognition:

In fingerprint recognition systems, the unique pattern of ridges and valleys on a fingerprint is scanned. This is to verify the identity of the user. Moreover, to recognize fingerprints this method uses capacitive or optical systems.

Compared to optical systems, capacitive systems use an array of electrodes. It is to measure the electrical capacitance of the skin.

Facial recognition:

Using a camera, it scans a person’s face and compares it to a stored image to verify their identity.

In real time or by comparing a captured image to a database of stored images, facial recognition systems can identify people.

Iris recognition:

An iris scan uses a camera to scan the unique patterns in a person’s iris (the colored part of their eye) to verify their identity.

Typically, iris recognition systems are more accurate and secure than other biometric methods.

Voice recognition:

This involves analyzing the unique characteristics of a person’s voice to verify their identity. Voice recognition systems typically involve the user speaking a predetermined phrase or set of words to establish their identity. There are few physical characteristics as unique and stable as the iris.

Other Biometric Authentication methods:

Hand geometry:

A hand measurement is used to verify a person’s identity by measuring the size and shape of their hand.

Ear recognition:

In order to verify a person’s identity, the unique shape of their ear must be analyzed.

Palm print recognition:

To verify a person’s identity, a scanner scans the unique pattern of lines and ridges on the palm of that person in order to verify their identity.

Signature recognition:

In order to verify someone’s identity, unique characteristics of their signature are analyzed.

Gait analysis:

Using this method, you will be able to analyze a person’s unique walking style in order to verify their identity.

You can add an extra layer of security using biometric authentication systems and passwords or PINs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biometric Authentication:

Advantages of Biometric Authentication:


A fingerprint scan or facial recognition is more secure than a password or PIN since each is unique.


This method can be faster and more convenient for users. Therefore they do not need to remember passwords. Also, they don’t need to carry physical tokens such as keycards or tokens.


Because of its unique physical characteristics, this method is more accurate than traditional ones.

User Experience:

By providing an easy and seamless login process, it can improve the user experience.

Disadvantages of Biometric Authentication:


Implementing biometric authentication can be costly. By all means, it requires specialized hardware and software to capture and verify biometric data.

Privacy Concerns:

There are some people who worry about the privacy implications of biometric authentication. It involves collecting and storing personal data.

Technical Issues: 

Biometric authentication methods can be prone to technical issues such as false negatives (incorrectly rejecting a valid user) or false positives (incorrectly accepting an invalid user).

Lack of Universality: 

Many people may not be able to use biometric authentication methods. Some may not have the physical characteristics (such as fingerprints). Others may have disabilities that prevent them from using them.

Biometric Authentication Use Cases:

Use Case 1: Mobile Phone Unlocking

A fingerprint scanner or facial recognition software is often used by smartphone users to unlock their phones through biometric authentication.

It allows users to unlock their phones. In this case, simply by touching their fingers to the scanner or looking at the camera. It is a convenient and secure way to protect access to personal data on the phone.

Use Case 2: Banking and Financial Transactions

The financial industry also uses a lot of biometric authentication to protect sensitive information and transactions.
If you log into your account or make a transaction at an ATM or on the Internet, you may be asked to show your face or fingerprint.

It can help stop fraud and give customers an extra layer of security.

Use Case 3: Physical Access Control

Often, entering buildings or secure areas requires biometric authentication. For instance, a company might use fingerprint scanners or software that recognizes a person’s face to let employees or visitors in. As a result, unauthorized access can be prevented and facility security can be improved.

Use Case 4: Government and Military Applications

Biometric authentication is used by the government and military to protect sensitive information.

It is not uncommon for military bases to use facial recognition or fingerprint scanners to let personnel get into restricted areas.

In the same way, government agencies may use biometric authentication to check employees’ identities to access sensitive data.

Wrapping up

Ancient Babylonians used fingerprints to seal business transactions and sign documents. It became more common in the 20th century to use biometric authentication for security purposes. Fingerprints were used to identify and match criminals to crimes in the 1970s. People used their fingerprints to get in when biometric security systems started in the 1980s.

Face recognition and iris scanning became more advanced in the 1990s. Military bases and government agencies were the first to use them. However, they became more common in commercial and consumer settings.

In the 21st century, biometric authentication has become increasingly prevalent. Fingerprint scanners and facial recognition software are now common on smartphones and other devices. Users use biometric authentication in many places, such as banking, healthcare, and transportation, to make things safer and more accessible.

Hopefully, we’ll see more biometric authentication methods as technology changes. Many experts think biometric authentication will replace traditional methods. Like passwords and PINs as the primary way to prove your identity.