What is liveness detection?

Liveness detection is a technique used to distinguish between real and fake biometric samples to enhance security and prevent fraud.

Link to the author's page
Pierre Biasutti
June 5, 2024
Link to the author's page
What is liveness detection?

Even those most seemingly unique aspects of our identity - namely our faces, voices, and fingerprints - are capable of being imitated and used against us by hackers to fool biometric authentication systems. 

For businesses, these spoof attacks represent a new front in the ongoing battle for cyber security, and liveness detection is one of the most effective tools we have to combat them.

Liveness detection analyzes biometric samples to determine whether they’re real or fake, helping to fight fraud, bolster security, and maintain the privacy of your customers. 

In this article, we explain how liveness detection works, the different types (active and passive), why it’s important and how Checkout.com can help you with our powerful identity verification tools.   

What is liveness detection for Identity Verification?

Liveness detection is a technique used to assess whether a biometric sample, such as a face or fingerprint, is real or fake, so that the user’s identity can be verified. 

Fraudsters have developed sophisticated methods of mimicking the unique physical characteristics of real people. Known as a spoofing or presentation attacks, they can use anything from high resolution 2D imagery and deepfakes to 3D masks, and even wax heads, in an attempt to fool authentication and recognition technology. 

Liveness detection uses algorithms to look for signs of fakery, such as artificial skin tone, moiré noise (when a digital device struggles to recreate patterns or textures), intensive glare, or unusual shadows. 

There are two types of liveness detection:

Active liveness detection

Active liveness requires the subject of the verification to perform an action such as pressing their finger to a scanner, tilting their head, or speaking, and then uses 3D mapping, movement analysis or speaker recognition to determine their liveness. As these actions are difficult to imitate with a fake biometric sample, the algorithm will detect anomalies that could be a sign that it’s a spoof.  

One of the downsides of active liveness detection is that it could be considered intrusive by the user and relies on them complying with the prompt. Because of this, it is used less frequently than passive detection. 

Passive liveness detection

Passive liveness detection, on the other hand, does not rely on user participation. Operating in the background, it can scan a user's face and detect naturally occurring human movements like blinking to determine their authenticity. Passive liveness detection typically uses 2D facial map generation, meaning a user selfie or video can be enough to conduct a check. 

Passive detection is considered to be a more frictionless process and, taking just 1-2 seconds, is much quicker than an active check. As passive checks can use multiple algorithms without input from the user, some consider them to be more powerful, though there is an ongoing debate over whether or not they are more accurate than active checks. 

How does liveness detection work?

Liveness detection systems have been trained on hundreds of thousands of real-face images displayed against various backgrounds. This data is used to establish what a genuine face sample should look like.

3D systems can use techniques such as depth perception, texture analysis, and motion analysis to check for spoofing, and are able to detect even the most subtle signals of artificiality.  

In the case of voice-based liveness detection, the algorithm will look for signs of artificial speech generators and pre-recorded voices, such as power distribution and voice tone and frequency. 

Read more: What is KYC verification?

Why is liveness detection important?

Liveness detection is an essential tool in the neverending fight against fraud in the payments world. 

Fraud prevention

Liveness detection is an advanced method of authenticating biometric samples that could otherwise be easily tricked by sophisticated mimicry such as high-resolution video and imagery. Because biometric authentication is often used to secure payments and customer accounts, preventing fraudsters from gaining access to these systems can prevent major financial losses or theft of personal data.   

Enhanced security

Biometric systems are an advanced security measure, but even they are capable of being manipulated by sophisticated fraud techniques. Liveness detection provides an additional layer of security to biometric authentication, making it even harder for criminals to gain access to sensitive systems. 

Privacy protection

While liveness detection uses biometric data, it only needs to capture the information that’s essential for conducting identity verification, rather than sensitive personal information that a customer may either not want to share, or that data protection regulations prevent businesses from storing. 

How Checkout.com and Identity Verification can help you with liveness detection

As a payments provider on the frontline in the fight against payment fraud, Checkout.com has built accurate, fast, and reliable identity verification directly into its platform. 

We also understand the need for our clients to build trust and loyalty with their customers. That’s why our solution can be as seamless and unobtrusive as possible while complying with all essential regulations and keeping your customers safe. 

At the heart of this approach is our ID video streaming tool. After the user records the front and back of their document, we use AI to analyze movement and tilting, as well as the document’s safety features, to verify their identity. This video-based method is twice as fast as photo-based alternatives. You also get full control to customize user flows, with the ability to create personalized instructions and incorporate your own branding and logos, which sends strong trust signals to your customers. 

Finally, our scientists are constantly working on improving our liveness AI. This helps it to minimize mistakes and stay on top of the latest types of fraud attack. Lately, our liveness verification AI has evolved from an active detection to a passive one in order to maximize the conversion, lower the FRR (False Rejection rate) while keeping a constant level of security. This method was approved and validated by the French Cybersecurity Agency.  

Contact one of our experts today and partner with Checkout.com for fast, secure, seamless payments and robust identity verification. 

Stay up-to-date

Get Checkout.com news in your inbox.

Back to top button
June 5, 2024 16:28
June 5, 2024 16:28