Not so long ago facial recognition technology was a futuristic plot device in spy movies and TV series about special teams of federal agents. Today it is a powerful tool used widely by federal agencies and the military, and also emerging as an important component of security solutions for businesses..
According to Allied Market Research, the global facial recognition market is expected to generate revenue of $9.6 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 21.3%. As this once futuristic technology becomes mainstream, it is more accessible for applications ranging from border security to e-commerce. In 2015, homeland security investments in the technology dominated the market (21%), a trend that is expected to continue for several years. Business and industrial enterprises have begun exploring how to leverage the technology for identity verification and fraud prevention. On the consumer side, Apple and Google already use facial recognition algorithms in photo sharing apps. Nascent solutions like Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Intel’s TrueKey feature biometrics measures like facial recognition to authenticate a user’s identity, control access, and manage passwords.
In the relentless battle between cybercriminals and cybersecurity experts, it has become clear that password protection is woefully inadequate due to pervasive user negligence, widely available brute force cracking tools, and dark web databases populated by credentials exposed in mega breaches. Facial recognition technology promises to improve the speed, accuracy, convenience and security of identification and authentication technology, with clear applications in a variety of industries.
In essence, facial recognition technology involves comparing selected points on a digital image of a face (photo or video still) to another image, usually in a verified database. Due to the ubiquity of smartphones and digital cameras, facial recognition is easier to implement than other biometrics. Fingerprints, heart rate, and DNA are among other possible biometric identifiers, but these require a higher level of interaction (along with concerns about invasion of personal privacy), and more specialized hardware.
Enterprises have found that multiple layers of various security countermeasures that are coordinated so that if one defense is breached, another is already in place to protect information assets—are the best way to thwart endlessly creative hackers and cybercriminals. Likewise, multi-factor authentication (e.g., passwords and biometrics and SMS codes) is the best way to prevent and detect fraud. As Gartner expert Avivah Litan has noted, “…identity proofing is the biggest fraud problem…Fraud has become an identity problem.”
Millions of consumers every year fall victim to identity theft and fraud. Efforts to combat fraud in person, like the deployment of EMV chip-and-pin credit cards, push criminals into new forms of fraudCurrent trends include exploiting the vulnerabilities of “card-not-present” channels, hijacking mobile accounts, and opening new accounts with fraudulent or stolen identities. Javelin Strategy and Research noted that new account fraud doubled in 2015, accounting for 20% of all fraud losses.
It’s not surprising that two of the major drivers behind adoption of facial recognition technology are compliance and fraud reduction. The financial losses and damage to personal security caused by new account fraud (banking, credit cards, and loans) put increasing pressure on banks to reduce risk, cut losses, and prevent fraud. Regulations like Know Your Customer, the Patriot Act, and Red Flags as well as FFIEC guidelines push financial institutions to deploy more advanced anti-fraud measures in order to remain compliant.
Beyond banking, the same imperatives will soon make facial recognition solutions essential components in compliance and security programs for auto sales and rentals, hotels, e-commerce, healthcare, and retail (e.g., alcohol and firearms). Self-service kiosks at hotels, rental agencies, airports, corporate lobbies, and banks (ATMs) can use internal cameras to provide an added layer of transaction security. Smartphone cameras make it possible for e-commerce transactions to be secured by selfie—the user takes and submits a photo, which is then compared with a verified photo on file with the bank or records bureau.
As physical and cyber threats grow increasingly interconnected, converged security solutions are emerging to cover vulnerable gaps exploited by criminals seeking access to intellectual property, sensitive networks, and industrial control systems (IoT, smart manufacturing, etc.). Visitor management and access control cannot rely on badges or IDs alone; names, photos, and access privileges must be authenticated in real time through verified identity databases and biometrics like facial recognition.
Comprehensive capture-to-authentication processes have to be quick and painless. Nobody wants to feel as though they are being interrogated or lined up for a mug shot when they open an account, complete a purchase, or show up for an appointment. Adding complexity or time to any onboarding or purchase transaction results in customer and revenue loss, especially online. Using facial recognition technology in conjunction with ID scanning solutions and document authentication enables multi-layered, readily implemented verification processes that are convenient for both service agent and customer.
In fact, using facial recognition technology to enhance verification and transaction processes has several benefits beyond security, fraud prevention, and compliance. Customers and end users find biometrics much more convenient than passwords, paperwork, or online transaction and registration forms. The same verification processes can be used on premise and for mobile or cloud-based services. Customer service agents can quickly and accurately scan IDs and submit photos for authentication, freeing them to focus on the customer experience and relationships. More processes can be handled via self-service kiosks, which many customers prefer (especially Millennials). Eliminating manual input reduces errors, eases language barriers, and shaves time off each transaction. This increased efficiency leaves customers more satisfied (nobody enjoys waiting in line or repeatedly spelling their name), and allows more transactions per day, boosting revenues.
Every level of security, from personal devices to international borders, is growing in complexity as threats shift and become more sophisticated. Individuals, public services, enterprises and governments have to find ways to strengthen and streamline identity verification. Building facial recognition technology, ID scanning, and automated authentication into your converged security programs and transaction processes is an effective and proactive way to protect your customers, employees, and assets.
Yossi Zekri is CEO of Acuant, the leading provider of intelligent data capture and authentication solutions.