Biometric Security Technology

Biometric Security Technology

Marcos Faundez-Zanuy (Escola Universitària Politècnica de Mataró, Spain)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-849-9.ch041
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Abstract

The word biometrics comes from the Greek words “bios” (life) and “metrikos” (measure). Strictly speaking, it refers to a science involving the statistical analysis of biological characteristics. Thus, we should refer to biometric recognition of people, as those security applications that analyze human characteristics for identity verification or identification. However, we will use the short term “biometrics” to refer to “biometric recognition of people”. Biometric recognition offers a promising approach for security applications, with some advantages over the classical methods, which depend on something you have (key, card, etc.), or something you know (password, PIN, etc.). A nice property of biometric traits is that they are based on something you are or something you do, so you do not need to remember anything neither to hold any token.
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Introduction

The word biometrics comes from the Greek words “bios” (life) and “metrikos” (measure). Strictly speaking, it refers to a science involving the statistical analysis of biological characteristics. Thus, we should refer to biometric recognition of people, as those security applications that analyze human characteristics for identity verification or identification. However, we will use the short term “biometrics” to refer to “biometric recognition of people”.

Biometric recognition offers a promising approach for security applications, with some advantages over the classical methods, which depend on something you have (key, card, etc.), or something you know (password, PIN, etc.). A nice property of biometric traits is that they are based on something you are or something you do, so you do not need to remember anything neither to hold any token.

Authentication methods by means of biometrics are a particular portion of security systems, with a good number of advantages over classical methods. However, there are also drawbacks (see Table 1).

Table 1.
Advantages and drawbacks of the three main authentication method approaches
Authentication methodAdvantagesDrawbacks
Handheld tokens (card, ID, passport, etc.)⁃ A new one can be issued.
⁃ It is quite standard, although moving to a different country, facility, etc.
⁃ It can be stolen.
⁃ A fake one can be issued.
⁃ It can be shared.
⁃ One person can be registered with different identities.
Knowledge based (password, PIN, etc.)⁃ It is a simple and economical method.
⁃ If there are problems, it can be replaced by a new one quite easily.
⁃ It can be guessed or cracked.
⁃ Good passwords are difficult to remember.
⁃ It can be shared.
⁃ One person can be registered with different identities.
Biometrics⁃ It cannot be lost, forgotten, guessed, stolen, shared, etc.
⁃ It is quite easy to check if one person has several identities.
⁃ It can provide a greater degree of security than the other ones.
⁃ In some cases a fake one can be issued.
⁃ It is neither replaceable nor secret.
⁃ If a person’s biometric data is stolen, it is not possible to replace it.

Depending on the application, one of the previous methods, or a combination of them, will be the most appropriate. This article describes the main issues to be known for decision making, when trying to adopt a biometric security technology solution.

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Main Focus Of The Article

This article presents an overview of the main topics related to biometric security technology, with the central purpose to provide a primer on this subject.

Biometrics can offer greater security and convenience than traditional methods for people recognition. Even if we do not want to replace a classic method (password or handheld token) by a biometric one, for sure, we are potential users of these systems, which will even be mandatory for new passport models. For this reason, it is useful to be familiarized with the possibilities of biometric security technology.

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