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What is Liveness Detection?

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Proof of life. 

It’s verifying that biometric data is being provided by its living source, not mimicked in some way. 

“It’s an anti-spoofing mechanism where you not only detect the biometric signature, you also determine whether it was a living person that applied the signature,” defines Andy Finch, CEO of IT Biometrics.

How is Liveness Detection Used?

According to Biometricupdate, “Liveness detection is used to secure authentication and verification processes against presentation attacks, and is increasingly recognized as essential to robust biometric security systems. The capability can be built into facial, voice, and even fingerprint or vein recognition, though most offerings are based on face or voice.”

Why is it Important to Understand Liveness Detection? 

“Let’s take the case of a data breach.” Andy posits. “Most of the login information in the world has been made public from some hack in the last decade or so…, social security numbers, passwords, all out there. But, it’s very unlikely anyone has their biometric data stored in a central database, but in the event that you even had your biometric stored out there, the liveness detection would verify that biometrics was actually from a living person.”

He continues,  “Without liveness detection right now I can lift your fingerprint using glue or using a paraffin wax, and apply it to anywhere that uses your fingerprint to login, such as your iPhone.”

Related: Watch Andy Finch, CEO of ITBiometrics Hack an iPhone with a Gummy Bear!

What Are The Benefits of Liveness Detection and How Does it Protect You? 

Just like you wouldn’t like getting your email hacked and having to reset your password before all your contacts get spammed by your address, you wouldn’t like having your fingerprint copied, or your face mimicked by a hacker to break past any one of your biometric security measures. 

Though you wouldn’t like it, the fact is that biometric hacking is one the rise, which is only revealing that the biometric technology we thought was unhackable, can definitely be spoofed. 

I could do it with a piece of tape. I could take your print off of a glass of water and if I could lift that off the glass, I could use that to get into an iPhone,” Andy explains.

Adding liveness detection gives biometrics an added layer of security, to help ensure that a fake fingerprint couldn’t get into your phone, or a picture of you couldn’t hack your facial recognition lock, or that heating up your forehead with a blowdryer wouldn’t pass a temperature check. 

Liveness detection creates much needed additional security and a more streamlined user experience for the products that we are relying more and more on. Current trends point that 

high-security and high-risk clients will continue to escalate demand as digital transactions increase through Covid.

“Say you’re talking about a high security cross border transfer for $10 million. As a bank you want to be certain about who that issuer is, right? That it wasn’t just someone who lifted the biometrics off. That’s where the enhanced biometrics and liveness detection come in.”

In every use-case biometrics can be applied, liveness detection is an added layer of security that provides higher levels of encryption, individuation, and reduces likelihood of breach.

What are the Downsides of Liveness Detection and Why is it Difficult to Capture? 

Liveness detection in facial recognition can increase the level of data-processing required to a point that encourages false positives. Governments are still trying to solve this problem.

It’s not just advanced processing power, some systems require large hardware too.

“There are some facial recognition programs that can detect forehead temperature and provide thermal imaging, but those are not fitting in your phone.” Andy muses, “Those are large, expensive, really sophisticated systems.”

“I would also say that there is expense to a lot of these systems. For example, you’ve got liveness detection in iris detection. To have a certified Iris detection system is actually quite expensive and it’s very sophisticated. And then there’s systems that support those systems. In other words, your Iris detection usually plugs into another system that houses data in a database. Depending on the type of biometric that you’re looking for, the cost, the usability, the size, the form factor, everything else, they can be pretty challenging for a consumer.” Cause it’s one thing to go into a NASA facility or into a top secret military facility and have an Iris detection. But it’s another thing if all I’m trying to do from the comfort of my living room is make a cross border wire transfer or withdraw money from my long term savings account. I don’t have the facilities in my house to go scan my iris.”

In sum, products with sophisticated liveness detection are notoriously more difficult and expensive to design. At the moment such sophisticated products are bulky and costly, which limits them to large government institutions and security. That means, liveness detection is not as accessible to consumer products as they need to be. 

In addition, each type of biometric technology has individual downsides, “With facial recognition, as an example, you can have identical twins that facial recognition can’t tell the difference between. But with a fingerprint, even identical twins do not have the same fingerprints which would make fingerprint biometrics with liveness detection more appropriate for twins,” says Andy. 

Related: Which Biometric Technology is Going to Win? 

“There are a lot of products that claim they have liveliness, but when you dig in, there really isn’t an additional sensor. It’s described as “spoof proof” because it’s been tested through a standard test where there’s a standard profile, but that’s not actually testing spoofing, that’s just testing the fingerprint reader.” Andy frowns. “At ITBiometrics we actually have additional sensors that provide additional data and all of those are put together for authentication.”

Liveness Detection in Biometrics is Crucial

Liveness detection is notoriously difficult to make spoof-proof, affordable, and accessible to consumers. 

However, it’s a challenge that we at ITBiometrics took on face first. 

Our BCD™and ITBx™  have fingerprint readers with liveness detection that are, “Sleek and convenient, cost-effective to produce, and have a lasting design.  These particular devices have fingerprint scanners with the added security of liveness detection ” 

In fact, ITBiometrics products have three simultaneous inputs to their finger-scanner, “We detect blood flow in your thumb or fingers, and we get a thermal signature to know that there’s actually heat generated from that finger,” Andy explains. “The combination of the print itself, the biometric signature, with the thermal signature and the pulse detection, make our fingerprint scanner unhackable.” 

The bottom line is liveness detection adds a reliable, unhackable layer of security to biometric credentialing systems. 

ITBiometrics uses fingerprint readers with thermal and pulse sensors to encrypt your signature in a sleek fob that fits in your wallet.

If you’re interested in learning more we suggest you read Liveness Detection at liveness.com. 

Related: Understanding the Difference Between Fingerprint Readers

For people who take biometrics seriously we think it’s important to share a few things with them.

First, our products which we’re proud of. We’ve put a lot of care into their engineering. 

Second is our Hacker Contest to put our money where our mouth is. Our fingerprint scanner with liveness detection is unhackable, but we encourage you to try anyways for a $10,000 prize. 

Third is our capital raise. If you like what we’re up to and want to join the journey, get in touch and join as an investor.

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