State watchdog releases strengthened biometric verification model

02, Jul. 2020

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SEOUL, AJU - South Korea's state transaction authority has released a new biometric verification model with a strengthened security process to prevent hacking and forgery when using online and mobile financial services.

Biometric authentication involves different sensors that detect unique physical characteristics such as the shape of iris and patterns of palm and fingerprints to digitally authenticate a user. The verification process uses various devices including smartphone cameras. However, such an important biometric data system can be breached and altered through security loopholes of online banking systems or sensor hardware installed in smartphones.

The conventional digital method sends and receives authenticated data from a central server that keeps biometric data. The Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute (KFTC) said that its new biometric verification model can detect signs of digital forgery or compromised data to alert users while the biometric server cuts off all authentication processes.

"Because the biometric verification method relies on sensors created by device makers, there are dangers of authentication failure due to forgery and alteration," a KFTC official was quoted as saying.

KFTC's new authentication model includes a safe module that temporarily allows users to log on to financial services using biometric data stored separately in related organizations' data servers for verification in case of security breach.

The new model was designed to replace the old digital accredited certificate that involved digital identification key files and passwords. The government has decided to stop using the digital certification tool and many financial technology services including online banking, insurance and mobile shopping service operators are adopting biometric verification methods.

Many smartphones use sensors to detect fingerprints for user authentication. Apple's latest iPhone uses facial recognition technology while some services require the forearm vein print. The global biometric system market is rapidly growing to reach $65.3 billion in 20234, according to research firm Markets and Markets