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Security and Convenient Access: Finding the Balance with Facial Recognition

Nov 06, 20173 mins
Identity Management SolutionsSecurity

Apple’s latest facial recognition technology improves security and, at the same time, make access easier and more convenient for users.

Credit: iStock

Security or convenience? That is the question—at least when it comes to user authentication and access to resources. But with recent advances in facial recognition, the question is no longer an either-or proposition. Rather than forcing organizations to choose between secure access or convenient access to mobile devices, a biometric authentication solution like Apple Face ID makes it possible to embrace both. Here’s how.

Increased Mobile Device Security

Mobile authentication methods are moving on a steady trajectory toward more stringent methods of user validation for device access, as Apple Face ID exemplifies. This latest iPhone biometric authentication depth-maps the user’s face with 30,000 infrared dots, and then “reads” the result to authenticate the user. This is in contrast with relying on the ability to recognize an ordinary camera image (as early iterations of facial recognition technology did), which could be easily spoofed with a photo. In addition, Apple’s newest implementation requires users to set a pin code upfront, adding another  layer of security. The sophistication of this next generation of facial recognition makes it a powerful tool for organizations seeking what RSA calls identity assurance, or the confidence that users requesting access really are who they say they are.

A More Intuitive User Experience

Apple Face ID completely replaces Apple Touch ID in the new iPhone X, taking another step in the direction of convenience. All a user has to do is pick up the phone and look at it, which is what any user would intuitively do when preparing to use the phone anyway. Authentication happens with no special effort required at all (convenience) and the device is more secure than ever.

Integration With Other Authentication Factors

Relying on just one form of authentication, no matter how effective or secure, is never advisable, especially when highly sensitive applications and data are involved. That’s why we at RSA are such big believers in using multi-factor authentication (MFA); at the same time, though, we don’t like it when multiple factors threaten to over-complicate access. In the case of Apple’s newest biometric capability, multi-factor authentication can be as easy as combining Apple Face ID with physical location data, user behavior patterns, or other factors, making it a seamless fit with the risk-based approach to authentication that characterizes RSA SecurID.

We at RSA believe flexible authentication is one key to successful identity assurance. And the latest facial recognition technology, which succeeds in balancing high security and low friction for users, seems poised to become a critical component in any program of flexible authentication. Download our white paper to learn more about flexible authentication and other keys to successful identity assurance.