Now is a Critical Moment for Standardized Biometrics Testing

Now is a Critical Moment for Standardized Biometrics Testing

Every year, FindBiometrics’ Year in Review survey takes the pulse of the industry, gauging perceptions and attitudes across a range of topics. And while this year’s survey is as varied as ever, the topic of biometric testing is more important than ever.

Standardized testing has long been an important component of the biometrics industry, particularly where the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is concerned. But some of its activities this year help to illustrate the industry’s rapid evolution, and the need for more sophisticated testing to go along with it. For example, NIST researchers announced a new system for DNA analysis that could dramatically improve forensics in criminal investigations and other applications if it can be standardized; and just this month, the organization published results from its Facial Recognition Vendor Testing that dramatically illustrate how that kind of biometric technology has advanced by leaps and bounds compared to industry surveys from 2010 and 2014.

This year also saw iBeta, the only NIST-accredited lab for biometrics testing, launch its own program for the evaluation of Presentation Attack Detection capabilities – spoofing detection, in other words. This, too, is an area of growing importance, with even Apple’s industry-leading, infrared, 3D facial recognition system having been subjected to a claimed spoofing attack (albeit a highly elaborate one) toward the end of last year. So far, FaceTec’s ZoOm 3D Face Login system is the only solution to have attained Level 1 certification in the iBeta test, but as more follow, it could become a kind of gold standard to help end users understand which solutions work best. And much the same might be said for the FIDO Alliance’s Biometrics Component Certification Program, also launched this year and with iBeta accredited to perform evaluations.

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There’s a strong case to be made that this is going to become more and more important going forward. Selfie-based authentication systems are quickly catching up to the ubiquity of fingerprint scanning – but recent research out of NYU demonstrated how machine learning could be used to develop a kind of ‘master key’ for less sophisticated fingerprint scanning systems, and spoofing threats are only going to continue to advance with respect to that modality, and facial recognition, and any other solution that becomes potentially lucrative to hack.

So it will be interesting to see how much Year in Review survey respondents agree with the statement, “Standardized biometric testing is crucial for the industry’s future.” You can have your say right away, with the short survey now open.