Testing a Biometric System: What's The Challenge for Developers?

Prateek Saxena
Prateek Saxena, Co-Founder & Managing Director at Appinventiv
Published on May 17, 2018 in App Development
Challenges Developers Face While Testing a Biometric System

Introduced in the digital world with the debut of iPhone 5S, the biometric authentication system has become a mainstream thing these days. From unlocking phones to securing confidential data, biometrics (fingerprints, iris structure, facial features, and voice) are replacing the traditional password and pin security methods thanks to being unique and unstolen/unshared, crafting a successful market for multi-factor authentication and other methods. In fact, a market report revealed that the biometric system market is expected to hit USD 32.73 billion by 2022, with a CAGR of 16.79 from 2016 to 2022.

While the biometric system has the potential to avoid the pitfalls of existing security methods and halt data breach activities, its implementation and application are not so easy and foolproof. There are various challenges faced during the implementation of biometrics and mobile software testing. To date, the major issues deterring the pace of integration of biometric authentication mechanism into a mobile app are:

4 Major Challenges You Need to Consider While Dealing with Biometric Data

How to gather Biometric data?

To enhance app performance, it is necessary to have adequate and accurate-real world data. However, it is quite common to gather biometric data. Unlike the data samples used for testing an ordinary app, biometric data is unique, sensitive and user might not be comfortable with sharing their biometric details. Mobile app development companies have to approach real-world users to collect and use the data, which is a challenge for them.

In addition to this, there are various compliances and ethic issues concerned with accumulating biometric data from real-world users and using it for testing, which makes the process even more complex and risky.

One of the best ways to tackle this situation is to gather reliable biometric data and create a continuous testing loop, ensuring that issues associated with biometric data or sensors can be easily identified in production (even if you fail to notice them in pre-production testing).

How to Store and Secure data?

The biggest challenge while storing a user’s fingerprints, iris scans and other biometrics is how to safeguard them. The biometric data is stored on the device or some database. If someone hacks these devices or the software, or installs malware, it will be easier for them to get access to the biometric data and the complete system. Since this data is unique and associated with the end users’ existence, if it goes in wrong hands - it can be misused to exploit their lives or even worse. For this reason, it is necessary for the QA team to follow various data privacy standards and compliances while dealing with the data. They have to work in collaboration with security engineers and legal advisors to make it certain that the app uses the biometric data effectively and responsibly. Besides, developers have to run a usability test to find which information users are comfortable to share with. This mobile app testing process will help you predict the kind of response you will get and work on delivering a positive response for the end users.

How to handle Input failures?

Like any other system, the biometric authentication system can also act abruptly, or fail to process the biometric data. It is necessary for the quality assurance team to have a backup input mechanism to maintain the app performance and availability level.

In a layman’s language, top app development companies must implement a password authentication system or any such conventional security mechanism into their app for cases when the user fails to provide the biometric inputs (camera not working) or the app fails to recognize voice or scan fingerprint instead of waiting for the system to function normally once again.

Besides, another challenge faced while developing a biometric authentication system is to prevent the hackers from creating a copy of your app and asking users to submit their biometric details there.

How to simulate Biometric data?

The biggest issue in dealing with biometric data is that it’s not easy to mimic the data. In other words, data can’t be simulated when one performs tests on simulated devices. Plus, it is quite difficult to test all the values and parameters together in an artificial simulated test environment. Because of this, it is crucial for the mobile app testing and quality assurance team to test the system on real mobile devices.

While Biometric authentication system is supposed to be the technology redefining the future of security world, it is yet in its nascent stage. Many challenges are yet to explore and tackle for providing unparalleled experience to the mobile app developers and users.

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About the author
Prateek SaxenaCo-Founder & Managing Director at Appinventiv

Prateek Saxena is the Co-founder of AppInventiv, one of the fastest-growing mobile application development companies, based in Noida, India. With extensive experience in Sales, he has established himself as a highly-focused user experience expert and...

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