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Biometrics vs. behavioral biometrics in fraud prevention

Author: Lindy Porter


In the realm of cybersecurity, fraud prevention is an essential aspect that's crucial to the success of businesses and individuals. As technology continues to advance, the methods used to prevent fraudulent activities have become more sophisticated. Two of the most common tools used today are biometrics and behavioral biometrics. While they sound similar and are often confused, they’re actually quite different. Let’s explore the advantages of behavioral biometrics over biometrics in fraud prevention.


Biometrics refers to the use of biological characteristics such as fingerprints, facial recognition, iris scans, and voice recognition to verify a user's identity. Biometric authentication refers to technology that uses these unique physical characteristics as a means of identification or access control. Although biometrics is an increasingly popular method of fraud prevention, it can be costly to implement and is vulnerable to data breaches. And although difficult to replicate, it’s becoming more common for biometrics to be forged with AI or digital voice cloning and deepfake technology. Once stolen, biometric data is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to change, making it an attractive target for hackers. Think of it like this: if your password is stolen you can simply set a new one. But if your face or fingerprint are stolen, you literally can’t get a new one.

The most common types of biometrics are:

  • Fingerprint
  • Facial recognition
  • Voice recognition
  • Iris recognition (also called iris scanning)

Other examples include palm and vein pattern recognition, which is used in hospitals to identify patients who have been admitted before and prevent them from being given the wrong medication or treatment.

Behavioral biometrics

Behavioral biometrics, on the other hand, is a method of fraud prevention that uses patterns of behavior to authenticate a user's identity. Behavioral biometrics (also known as behaviometrics) refers to measuring and analyzing human behavior patterns for authentication purposes. It involves analyzing user activities such as keystroke dynamics, typing rhythm, mouse movements, and even the way a user interacts with their device. Behavioral biometrics is designed to detect anomalies in a user's behavior, such as sudden changes in typing speed or the way a user moves their mouse.

Behavioral biometric systems can be used for fraud prevention because they're harder to fool than traditional methods like passwords or PINs - and they're more accurate than other types of behavioral analysis tools like facial recognition software.

The biggest advantage of behavioral biometrics is that it can’t be stolen. Unlike biometric data, which can be hacked, replicated, and used to gain unauthorized access, behavioral biometrics is based on the unique behavioral patterns of the user, which can’t be easily duplicated. This makes it an extremely reliable method of fraud prevention.

Another advantage of behavioral biometrics is its cost-effectiveness. Unlike biometrics, which requires specialized hardware and software, behavioral biometrics can be implemented using existing software and hardware. This makes it an ideal option for businesses and individuals who cannot afford expensive security measures but still want reliable fraud prevention methods.

It’s also more cost-effective since, unlike biometrics which requires specialized hardware, behavioral biometrics can be implemented using existing software and hardware. Furthermore, behavioral biometrics is highly adaptable and versatile, enabling it to be customized according to the specific needs and requirements of a business or individual. By creating accurate models of user behavior, behavioral biometrics can detect unusual behavior patterns and trigger an alert in case of potential fraud.

Types of Behavioral Biometrics

  • Keystroke dynamics: This type of behavioral biometrics analyzes the way you type or use your fingers to interact with a device. It analyzes your typing speed, pressure, and rhythm.
  • Mouse dynamics: This type of behavioral biometrics analyzes how you use a mouse or trackpad to click on things. It can tell if you're right-handed or left-handed, whether you use one finger or two fingers when clicking on items on screen, how fast/slowly/accurately (or not) each action is performed, as well as how long it takes for each movement from start point to end point before returning back again in order to perform another action. It can also tell the difference between someone who uses a mouse and someone who uses a trackpad.
  • Voice and speech recognition: This type of behavioral biometrics analyzes how you speak into a microphone or use your voice to interact with a device. It can tell if you're male or female, how fast you speak, whether you have an accent (if so what type), what words/phrases are used most frequently in conversation, as well as their order within the sentence structure. It can also tell the difference between someone who speaks in a monotone and someone who uses inflection.
  • Gestures: A specific movement of your fingers, hands or arms that can be recognized as a command – such as pinching, swiping, and zooming. This type of behavioral biometrics is often used for authentication purposes and can be used when you touch the screen or move your device in a certain way, like your typical device orientation on mobile.
  • Eye tracking: This type of biometric uses cameras to track eye movement and where it focuses on a screen. It can tell whether you're looking at certain parts of an application, if you click on something or just move your mouse over it.

Biometrics and behavioral biometrics are both useful methods of fraud prevention. Biometrics is extremely accurate but can be costly to implement and susceptible to data breaches. Behavioral biometrics is a superior fraud prevention method because it’s more versatile, cost-effective, and reliable than biometrics. Its dependence on patterns of behavior that can’t be stolen makes it more secure, while its cost-effectiveness and adaptability make it an ideal option for businesses and individuals.

Ultimately, the choice between these two methods depends on the specific needs and budget of each business or individual. The ideal fraud prevention solution employs a combination of both – a multi-layered defense against fraud, scams, and deepfake technology. By understanding the differences between biometrics and behavioral biometrics, businesses and individuals can make informed decisions about which method, or combination of methods, is right for them.

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