Which biometric authentication method is the best?

October 6, 2022     |    6 minute read

Which biometric authentication method is the best?

October 6, 2022     |    6 minute read

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far the author has created 146 blog entries.

Stay up to date with the latest content by subscribing to the Aware Biometrics Blog!


In the age of the digital world, security remains essential. Many organizations have rules in place to prevent weak and familiar passwords from being used. However, these policies do not address password fatigue. A study sponsored by Yubico and conducted by Ponemon Institute concluded that despite the increasing concern regarding privacy and protection online, individuals and businesses are still falling short:   

  • 50% of IT respondents and 39% of individual users reuse passwords across workplace accounts  
  • 59% of IT security respondents report that their organization relies on human memory to manage passwords   
  • 56% of individuals will only adopt new technologies that are easy to use and significantly improve account security   

Additionally, according to the report, respondents spend an average of 12.6 minutes each week or 10.9 hours per year entering and/or resetting passwords. This lost time results in a productivity and labor loss of $5.2 million annually per company.   

Biometrics Benefits

Considering these statistics, it’s not surprising that many businesses and individuals are adopting biometric authentication. According to one study, 79% of business leaders surveyed in the technology industry reported increasing their investment in biometrics compared to the previous year. 

An overall increase in the use of biometrics shows excellent potential to increase security in businesses. 82% of data breaches in businesses somehow involve the human element, with the use of stolen credentials representing one of the top ways social engineering breaches take place.  

Biometric adoption in business means less reliance on pin and password solutions. Unlike passwords, which can be forgotten, stolen, or shared – biometric authentication relies on something you are (fingerprint, retina pattern, etc.) instead of something you must remember. 

There are many modalities of biometric authentication to pick from, but which method is the best?   

Fingerprint Biometrics

In over 140 years of fingerprint comparison worldwide, no two fingerprints have been found to be alike, not even those of identical twins. Fingerprint recognition dates back to law enforcement agencies in the 19th century. Since then, its role has expanded beyond law enforcement and is used for mobile authentication, onboarding, and applications that require access control and identity management. Fingerprint identification is based on pattern recognition, where the arches, loops, and whorls of the fingerprint ridges are compared with stored data.   

This modality is flexible, easy to use, and can be effective in replacing key cards and granting access to workstations. Fingerprint recognition has remained stable for more than 100 years, making it an infallible personal identifier. However, remember that this modality is not a touchless solution and may need to be regularly cleaned. If touchless authentication is not a concern, fingerprint identification is a good choice for many applications. 

Facial Recognition Technology Pros and Cons

The demand for touchless solutions has led to the popularity of facial recognition in consumer applications. Facial recognition is the process of identifying or verifying a person’s identity using their face. The technology works in three steps: detection, capture, and match. In detection, the technology detects and locates human faces in images and videos. In capture, the technology transforms analog information (a face) into a set of digital information (data or vectors) based on the person’s facial features. Lastly, in match, the technology process verifies if two faces belong to the same person. The process is quick and easy to deploy and implement. Facial recognition can be used in addition to other biometric modalities or by itself, making the use cases for the technology virtually endless. Lastly, the front-facing camera on any mobile device, tablet, or laptop makes it convenient and easy to verify and identify without additional hardware. 

This modality is suitable for situations where multi-factor authentication is needed, or there is a need to simplify onboarding. Facial recognition’s performance improves over time with 99.5% accuracy on first use and is touchless. 

Voice Authentication

Voice recognition includes speaker and speech recognition. Speech recognition is about recognizing and translating speech into text, while speaker recognition is about seeking the speaker’s identity. Since biometrics is about the identification of individuals, the phrase “biometric voice recognition” is also used for speaker recognition. The technology works by capturing and enrolling a voice using a microphone to create a reference template to compare against samples for future authentication attempts. Unique vocal qualities such as duration, intensity, dynamics, and pitch are then analyzed. Voice authentication’s use cases range from proof of life scenarios in public services to patient record access in healthcare, but this modality is convenient and can be applied to virtually any use case. If secure authentication over the phone is needed, speaker recognition works best. Since this modality simply requires the user to speak, verification can be conducted as long as the end-user has a mobile device. Additionally, it is touchless and meets the demand for touchless solutions.       

Iris Recognition

Iris recognition is widely considered to be the most accurate modality of biometric identification. The technology works in four steps: image capture, compliance check and image enhancement, image compression, and biometric template creation for matching. The camera captures photos of a person’s eyes and maps the unique iris pattern to verify their identity. Iris recognition’s use cases range from national citizen ID programs, access control, border management, and mobile authentication. Like facial recognition, iris recognition is touchless and meets the growing consumer demand for touchless solutions. However, this technology requires additional hardware because you cannot use a regular camera on a mobile device; it requires an IR light source sensor.   

Select the Biometric Modality That Works for You

One must consider the use case and convenience when deciding on a biometric modality. The heightened consumer awareness of hygiene calls for touchless solutions like facial and voice recognition. Additionally, these solutions do not require added hardware; authentication can be conducted through a mobile device. Fingerprint recognition has the longest history, has been a great addition to law enforcement, and currently has various use cases. However, it is not a touchless solution and requires constant cleaning. Lastly, iris recognition is on the rise and is already being used to secure the most precious documents. Iris recognition works best if you need access control and meets the demand for touchless solutions. While great options, fingerprint and iris recognition require additional hardware for use, decreasing convenience. Ultimately, deciding which biometric modality meets your needs depends on one’s unique circumstances.  

If you need assistance deciding which modality meets your needs, Aware has a vast range of easy-to-use solutions that meet virtually any use case. The Knomi® mobile biometric authentication framework is easy to use, secure and flexible. The framework would enable biometric facial matching and liveness authentication directly from mobile devices. Additionally, the AwareABIS™ supports fingerprint, face, and iris recognition for large-scale and small-scale biometric identification. Its modular architecture helps IT teams configure and optimize for any use case.   

Want to learn more?

Schedule a demo to get started today