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What is Biometrics Authentication

December 18, 2017
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One of our highest priorities in the world of information security is confirmation that a person accessing sensitive, confidential, or classified information is authorized to do so. Such access is usually accomplished by a person’s proving their identity by the use of some means or method of authentication. Biometrics is a field of technology which has been and is being used in the identification of individuals based on some physical attribute. Biometric technology is used for automatic personal recognition based on biological traits—fingerprint, iris, face, palm print, hand geometry, vascular pattern, voice or behavioral characteristics gait, signature, typing pattern. Fingerprinting is the oldest of these methods and has been utilized for over a century by law enforcement officials who use these distinctive characteristics to keep track of criminals.

Basic Overview of Biometrics Authentication

In this computer-driven era, identity theft and the loss or disclosure of data and related intellectual property are growing problems. We each have multiple accounts and use multiple passwords on an ever-increasing number of computers and Web sites. Maintaining and managing access while protecting both the user’s identity and the computer’s data and systems has become increasingly difficult. Central to all security is the concept of authentication – verifying that the user is who he claims to be.

Biometric seem to be everywhere these days. Consumer preference has turned the technology into a must-have for the modern smart-phone or laptop. Biometric authentication is a security process that relies on the unique biological characteristics of an individual to verify that he is who is says he is. Biometric authentication systems compare a biometric data capture to stored, confirmed authentic data in a database. If both samples of the biometric data match, authentication is confirmed. Typically, biometric authentication is used to manage access to physical and digital resources such as buildings, rooms and computing devices.

Thumb for Biometric Verification

Figure 1: A Thumb for Biometric Verification

Generally speaking, there are four factors of physical attributes that are used or can be used in user authentication:

  • Finger print scans, which have been in use for many years by law enforcement and other government agencies and is regarded as a reliable, unique identifier.
  • Retina or iris scans, which have been used to confirm a person’s identity by analyzing the arrangement of blood vessels in the retina or patterns of color in the iris
  • Voice recognition, which uses a voice print that analyses how a person says a particular word or sequence of words unique to that individual

There are seven basic criteria for biometric security system: uniqueness, universality, permanence, collectability, performance, acceptability and circumvention.

Criteria of Biometric Security

Figure 2: Criteria of Biometric Security

Types of Biometrics

A number of biometric methods have been introduced over the years, but few have gained wide acceptance.

Signature dynamics: Based on an individual’s signature, but considered unforgeable because what is recorded isn’t the final image but how it is produced — i.e., differences in pressure and writing speed at various points in the signature.

Typing patterns: Similar to signature dynamics but extended to the keyboard, recognizing not just a password that is typed in but the intervals between characters and the overall speeds and pattern. This is akin to the way World War II intelligence analysts could recognize a specific covert agent’s radio transmissions by his “hand” — the way he used the telegraph key.

Eye scans: This favorite of spy movies and novels presents its own problems. The hardware is expensive and specialized, and using it is slow and inconvenient and may make users uneasy.

In fact, two parts of the eye can be scanned, using different technologies: the retina and the iris

Fingerprint recognition: Everyone knows fingerprints are unique. They are also readily accessible and require little physical space either for the reading hardware or the stored data.

Voice/speech recognition: This is different from speech recognition. The idea is to verify the individual speaker against a stored voice pattern, not to understand what is being said.

Facial (Face) recognition: Uses distinctive facial features, including upper outlines of eye sockets, areas around cheekbones, the sides of the mouth and the location of the nose and eyes. Most technologies avoid areas of the face near the hairline so that hairstyle changes won’t affect recognition.

Biometric Security Applications

Biometric technology can be used for a great number of applications. Chances are, if security is involved, biometrics can help make operations, transactions and everyday life both safer and more convenient. Here you will find a list of the many areas of deployment for biometrics and the companies that provide applicable identity solutions

Biometric Security

Biometric Security As connectivity continues to spread across the globe, it is clear that old security methods are simply not strong enough to protect what’s most important. Thankfully, biometric technology is more accessible than ever before, ready to bring enhanced security and greater convenience to whatever needs protecting, from a door, to your car to…

  • Border Control/Airports

Border Control and Airport Biometrics A key area of application for biometric technology is at the border. Anyone who’s traveled by air can tell you security checkpoints border crossings are some of the most frustrating places to have to move through. Thankfully, biometric technology is helping automate the process.

  • Consumer/Residential Biometrics

Consumer and Residential Biometrics Recent innovations in mobility and connectivity have created a demand for biometrics in the homes and pockets of consumers. Smartphones with fingerprint sensors, apps that allow for facial and voice recognition, mobile wallets: these are the increasingly popular ways that consumers around the world are finding biometric in their lives.

  • Fingerprint & Biometric Locks

Fingerprint Biometric Locks If you have something worth protecting why not give it the star treatment? Biometric physical access control solutions are stronger authentication methods than keys, key cards and PINs for a simple reason: they’re what you are, not what you have.

  • Healthcare Biometrics

Biometrics in Healthcare Biometrics bring security and convenience wherever they’re deployed, but in some instances they also bring increased organization. In the field of healthcare this is particularly true. Health records are some of the most valuable personal documents out there, doctors need access to them quickly, and they need to be accurate.


[1] Tanuj Tiwari, Tanya Tiwari, and Sanjay Tiwari, “Biometrics Based User Authentication”

[2] Russell Kay, “Biometric Authentication”, available online at:

[3] “Applications”, available online at:


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