Facial Recognition Security Flaws

facial recognition

Facial Recognition Security Flaws

A press release from a Biometric Institute in Australia indicates concerns over the mismatch in facial recognition performance in a controlled environment over the results achieved in practice.


Here is an excerpt from a recent press release.

“In recent years, wide deployment of automatic face recognition systems has been accompanied by substantial gains in algorithm performance. However, benchmarking tests designed to evaluate these systems do not account for the errors of human operators, who are often an integral part of face recognition solutions in forensic and security settings. This causes a mismatch between evaluation tests and operational accuracy. Our recent work, in collaboration with the Australian Passport Office, has addressed this by measuring user performance in a face recognition system that is used to screen passport applications for identity fraud.”

In biometric circles, there are a number of important benchmarks by which security and usability are measured.

Two of the important ones are-

  • False Acceptance Rate (FAR) the rate at which the biometric device recognises an individual incorrectly.
  • False Rejection Rate (FRR) is the rate at which the biometric device fails to recognise the user.

Biometric time devices have to balance the above-mentioned rates to a point which is acceptable for the specific application. By comparison, the time and attendance industry is not so security conscious so the current technology is usually perfectly adequate in a security sense. The balance between the FAR and FRR is intentionally dialed towards the FAR end to make recognition easier.

The speed of recognition is usually the main issue for time and attendance. Facial recognition can typically have a 5 second cycle time from presentation of the user’s face to acceptance. For example, there are 100 employees on a shop floor and all are trying to clock off at the close of business the last employee would be clocking out almost 10 minutes later than the first. Not the most desirable situation on a Friday afternoon when your employees are in a hurry to start their weekend!

Certainly, technology and security improvements being driven by those more critical applications will be to the benefit of the time and attendance industry and these advances should translate into faster recognition times with less emphasis on the placement and stability of the individual being recognised.

At the moment, however, these security concerns are not really an issue if your interest is in the time and attendance area.

Farzi Ahmed