Biometric Authentication: Finding a Balance Between UX and IT Security

When it comes to authentication, most security professionals see it as a necessary evil. It provides security at the expense of the end user’s desire for a frictionless experience.

That way of thinking, however, was challenged at the Opus Research Intelligent Authentication 2016 conference. The two-day event made a point to highlight authentication not only as a security measure, but also as an integral part of the user experience.

Solving the Paradox

When implemented appropriately, frictionless authentication methods can increase both security and customer satisfaction. At the event, Sarah Bramwell, the Head of IVR and Telephony at TalkTalk, said the company was able to reduce the average agent call time by a full minute using voice biometrics. Specifically, the U.K. telecommunications giant improved customer satisfaction by reducing call times, and it also fostered confidence in biometric security over passwords and PINs among users.

It is clear there is a real ROI when it comes to biometrics. Organizations such as TalkTalk, top U.K. banks and RBC Canada, for example, have been reaping the results already, many times ahead of their competitors.

Watch the On-Demand Webinar: Five Steps to Overcome Customer Authentication Chaos

Authentication Limitations

Biometrics can be extremely beneficial for both the enterprise and the end user, but it is important to consider its limitations. MasterCard shared some advice regarding biometrics at the conference. For example, consider the fluid nature of technical, legal and regulatory measures that can vary over time, and across industries and geographic locations.

The various speakers at the conference also emphasized the importance of:

  • Determining where to store biometric data (central server versus device-stored);
  • Matching the right biometric appropriately to each protected asset;
  • Understanding hardware limitations; and
  • Performing proof of concepts and usability tests.

Improving User Experience and Security

All things considered, biometric authentication is here to stay. With organizations such as the FIDO Alliance and other standards emerging in the space, it is exciting to see how the industry is adapting authentication mechanisms to accommodate the demand for a seamless user experience.

At IBM, we pride ourselves on our access management capabilities. Together with Opus Research, we hosted a webinar providing organizations with a simple, five-step approach to a secure, yet seamless authentication process. If you missed the conference and would like to learn about this framework, watch the webinar, “Five Steps to Overcome Customer Authentication Chaos,” hosted by Opus Research founder and lead analyst Dan Miller.

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Patricia Diaz

Portfolio Marketing Manager, IBM

Patricia Diaz is a worldwide Portfolio Marketing Manager for IBM Security. Since joining IBM in 2014, Patricia has held roles in sales and product marketing within the Analytics and Security business units. She holds a BBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.