It has been several years since face recognition systems have found their way into smartphones as well as laptops, allowing you to unlock the device without the need for a PIN, password, pattern or even a fingerprint. But is this system safe and should we use it?
Although many manufacturers have moved to such a system for their products, not all of their technology is the same, and as can be guessed, some techniques are more secure and also provide more capabilities to users. In this article, we will take a look at different types of face recognition techniques and also talk about their security. Stay with Digito until the end.
Camera-based face recognition system
As you can guess, we are dealing with a technique that uses a selfie camera to detect your face. It can be said that most Android phones use Android 4.0 or later after this feature, and before the fingerprint sensor entered these products, it was the first biometric system to unlock them.
When you activate this feature for the first time, a photo of your face is taken, and sometimes it is done from different angles. Then, using a software algorithm, your facial features are extracted and saved. Then, whenever you try to unlock your device with your face, the live image of your face is compared with the reference data.
The accuracy of this method depends on the algorithm used, so it can never be called a complete system. In addition, the amount of variables such as lighting conditions, changes in appearance, as well as the use of items such as glasses, masks and even jewelry can disrupt the performance of this system.
Although Android has its own face recognition APIs, manufacturers have resorted to proprietary solutions to speed up such a system without sacrificing quality. Despite such an approach, one cannot be satisfied with these systems.
Infrared-based face recognition system
While all smartphones have a selfie camera, the infrared or infrared-based face recognition system requires more hardware. However, not all of them work the same.
The first type of system involves taking two-dimensional photos of your face, which is similar to a camera-based system, yet uses an infrared spectrum. The most important advantage of this system is that it does not depend on light to examine your face, and it works well in dark environments. In addition, it is more secure because it uses heat energy or reverse heat.
Two-dimensional infrared face recognition systems with expensive laptops and Microsoft’s Windows Hello system are now available to users, including Redmond Surface devices. Of course, it is also possible to use a webcam for such a feature. For example, the Logitech Brio 4K webcam contains infrared cameras for Hello.
While the 2D face recognition system performs better than the camera-based system, there is a safer way to do it, such as Apple ID. The system uses an array of sensors to capture three-dimensional details of the face, and to do so, it goes to thousands of tiny invisible dots. An infrared sensor then calculates how these points return and creates a deep map of your face.
3D systems have two advantages: they can be used in dark environments and they can also be difficult to deceive. While two-dimensional systems study only heat, three-dimensional systems also require in-depth data.
Which face recognition system is better?
There is no competition, and infrared-based systems are much more secure. Also note that most phone manufacturers do not allow you to use the camera-based system for sensitive applications. Therefore, you can not use such a service for banking apps.
What about privacy?
Given the nature of face recognition, the question arises as to whether storing biometric data electronically is a good idea. The good news is that you should not worry too much about such a thing.
Most operating systems that support biometric unlocking methods store biometric data securely. On smartphones, this data is often encrypted and also stored in a special security department that has no connection to other departments. Qualcomm, for example, is one of the largest manufacturers of Android phone chips, using a secure processing unit, and Apple also calls the system “Secure Enclave.”
Simply put, third-party apps and, of course, attackers do not have access to your biometric data.
Should we use a face recognition system?
Face recognition is one of the fastest and easiest ways to unlock a device, and it is more difficult to penetrate than traditional methods such as pins. However, camera-based systems are not very secure, and although many Android devices use it, it does not make sense to use it if security is important to you.
In contrast, the infrared-based face recognition system is highly secure, but few manufacturers have gone for it, and only the iPhones and iPad Pro are the main products equipped with it. Although in the past some Android phones had such a system, but trying to reduce the margins around the screen and of course move to the hole inside the screen, led to the removal of infrared sensors from these products.
However, in the future we may see the return of such a system to Android phones, but this time with a different approach. Most Android flagships are now equipped with a fingerprint sensor under the screen, and we have to prepare ourselves to move the selfie camera below the screen, so maybe in the future infrared sensors will be moved under the screen without seeing the margins around the screen. Let’s get a secure face recognition system.