You know why it’s important to protect your personal online banking information with a strong password. You even go the extra mile and change your password every 90 days to make sure you’re always one step ahead.
But what do you do when your mobile banking app introduces the idea of biometric authentication – and what does that mean? If you’re not sure whether to opt into this new layer of security, here’s what you need to know.
What is Biometric Authentication?
Per the Biometrics Research Group from Michigan State University’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, biometric recognition software is able to recognize a specific user from anatomical or behavioral characteristics.
This could include using your fingerprint, facial recognition technology or voice recognition. Biometrics, MSU notes, has become increasingly popular among financial institutions to combat fraud.
Most commonly, mobile financial apps use touch-based fingerprint identification, saving you from having to type in a lengthy password every time you want to check your savings balance or monitor a transfer.
What Are the Benefits of Biometric Authentication?
Bekah Witten, writing for the University of South Florida Department of Information Technology, notes the biggest advantage of biometric authentication is the ability to unlock an app with your finger.
Having your finger serve as the key to your mobile banking app means that you are theoretically the only person who can access it. This lessens the risk of someone learning your password by watching you type it in.
Biometric authentication doesn’t mean you are forgoing a conventional password. You will still need to use a strong password for your online banking accounts; authentication with biometric data is simply a way to access it more quickly.
What Are the Possible Drawbacks?
While you are ideally the only person who can access a fingerprint-unlocked application, there are concerns that this is not always the case. Witten notes that a group of researchers from MSU and New York University found that it is possible to generate false fingerprints that can trick a smartphone’s touch ID.
Alvaro Bedoya, a professor of law at Georgetown University, also notes that biometric data may be less secure than a password because it is less private: Your fingerprint is left on everything you touch, creating the unlikely but still possible risk that a hacker could steal your prints.
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While biometric authentication is widely used by financial institutions for online and mobile banking, it’s not risk-free. The choice is yours to determine whether to use the technology or not, but your best protection against fraud and identity theft is always diligence and a commitment to personal security.
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