The previous article in this series introduced the topic of signature recognition as a form of biometric technology. Here, expert Ravi Das lays out the advantages and disadvantages of this technology, as well as its various market applications.
The most significant benefit of Signature Recognition is that it is highly resistant to impostors. For example, while it is quite easy to forge a signature, it is very difficult to mimic the behavioral patterns inherent to the process of signing. Signature Recognition is well suited to high-value transactions such as the verification of the business representatives involved in a transaction before any classified documents are opened and signed.
Second, compared to the other biometric technologies, Signature Recognition is deemed to be non-invasive and thus more likely to be widely accepted by users. We have all used our signature to authorize transactions, which does not in any way impede our sense of privacy (or privacy-related rights).
Third, users of biometric systems often worry that templates may be stolen if a system is compromised, and that stolen templates cannot be replaced and/or changed. While this may be true for physical biometrics (it would, for example, be very difficult to change the structure of your fingerprint or iris), Signature Recognition allows the behavioral dynamics of the way you place your signature to be changed, thus easing user concerns.
On the downside, Signature Recognition is prone to higher error rates, particularly when the behavioral characteristics of signatures are mutually inconsistent. In addition, users may have difficulties getting used to signature tablets, which can result in higher error rates.
Signature recognition can be compared against seven key criteria, described below.
- Universality: This is probably the biggest strength of signature recognition. It can be used with almost any language, ranging from English to very obscure languages.
- Uniqueness: Obviously the more characteristics a signature has, the more unique it becomes. When the variables of speed, velocity, timing, and pressure are introduced, dynamic signatures can virtually never be lost or stolen.
- Permanence: This is probably one of the greatest weaknesses of signature recognition. An individual’s signature can vary greatly over just a span of a few minutes, by such variables as fatigue, illness, stress, or distraction. These variables in turn, can also affect the ability of the individual to actually grip the writing pen used to create the dynamic signature, and exert the downward pressure which is needed.
- Collectability: The ability to collect raw signature samples is a direct correlation of the quality of the signature recognition system itself (meaning, a lower grade signature system will make it much more difficult to collect a robust signature sample).
- Performance: It has been recognized that the best performing signature recognition devices are about 96% accurate. But the better the signature recognition device, the higher the cost. A strong advantage here is that signature recognition requires no end user training.
- Acceptability: In general, when compared to the other biometric technologies, most people are comfortable with providing their signature, primarily because of its ease of use and non-privacy rights issues. It is also important to note that the theft of personal data is much less likely with dynamic recognition technology versus graphic recognition technology (such as storing a fingerprint or an iris).
- Resistance to circumvention: This is another big advantage of signature recognition. A signature that is dynamically produced is almost impossible to forge.
On balance, then, the advantages of Signature Recognition outweigh its disadvantages.
Signature Recognition stands out from other biometric technologies
When compared to all biometric technologies, both physical and behavioral, signature recognition offers the most potential in terms of adaptability and implementation. This holds true from a number of perspectives.
First, there is its ease of use. The user simply places his/her signature as he/she would normally do. There is, therefore, no need for end-user training, as is the case with other types of biometric technology, including Facial Recognition and Retinal Recognition. The training needed for the person operating the Signature Recognition device is also minimal.
Second, the cost to implement Signature Recognition is low. The system consists of a special pen, a tablet, and software (which, in the case of retailers, could be installed in a POS terminal). Costs are minimal compared to those of more complicated systems, such as a Retinal Scanning Device.
Finally, a Signature Recognition system can easily be embedded in an organization’s prevailing security processes, without excessively disrupting or affecting operations. For example, no major wiring or installation is needed (as is the case with a hand geometry scanner or fingerprint scanner). Signature Recognition could therefore prove a highly valuable tool for multi modal security solutions.
What biometric technologies will we see in the future?
The next article in this series will cover keystroke recognition technology.
Ravi Das is a Cybersecurity Consultant and Business Development Specialist. He also does Cybersecurity Consulting through his private practice, RaviDas Tech, Inc. He also possesses the Certified in Cybersecurity (CC) cert from the ISC2.