What are behavioral biometrics?

We recently looked at what are known as physiological biometrics, the data that’s related to the specific measurements, dimensions and characteristics of your body – for example your fingerprints or your eye.

But there is another type of biometric measure that can also be used to authenticate identity. Unlike physiological biometrics, behavioral biometrics relate to your personal habits and unique movements. The earliest – and still very commonly used – example of a physiological biometric is your written signature. But advances in technology are allowing us to monitor other personal behaviors and use them to determine we are who we say we are.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common:

Signature dynamics

This takes it beyond just what your signature looks like, and instead looks at how you sign. It includes analysis of the direction and pressure of your pen stroke, and combines it with the overall shape of the signature to verify your ID.

Voice

The unique patterns in your voice can be analyzed and compared to an example voiceprint to confirm your ID.  This is already used to access some online banking services and automated customer service phonelines.

Keystroke dynamics

As well as how you write with a pen, biometric data can also come from the manner and rhythm in which you type on a keyboard.

Gait

Gait analysis looks at the unique way you walk, which is determined by a set of personal characteristics including your age, height and weight. Special cameras can be set up to analyze people’s walking style and identify them.

Gestures

Other physical human gestures, usually from the face or hands, can also be used to identify you. Some smartphones today use facial or smile recognition to control unlocking the device.

And again, please remember that while biometric security is a valuable tool in authenticating identity, it alone is not enough for strong security. Three factor authentication, which involves something you know (password), something you are (biometric) and something you have (token) is the best way to prevent unauthorised access.

If you have any other questions on biometrics, just ask!