Published on Dec 12, 2015
Biometrics refers to the automatic identification of a person based on his/her physiological or behavioral characteristics such as finger scan, retina, iris, voice scan, signature scan etc. This method of identification is preferred over traditional methods involving passwords and PIN numbers for various reasons:
the person to be identified is required to be physically present at the point-of-identification; identification based on biometric techniques obviates the need to remember a password or carry a token. With the increased use of computers as vehicles of information technology, it is necessary to restrict access to sensitive/personal data.
By replacing PINs, biometric techniques can potentially prevent unauthorized access to or fraudulent use of ATMs, cellular phones, smart cards, desktop PCs, workstations, and computer networks. A biometric system is essentially a pattern recognition system, which makes a personal identification by determining the authenticity of a specific physiological, or behavioral characteristics possessed by the user. An important issue in designing a practical system is to determine how an individual is identified. Depending on the context, a biometric system can be either a verification (authentication) system or an identification system.
Biometrics is a rapidly evolving technology, which is being widely used in forensics such as criminal identification and prison security, and has the potential to be used in a large range of civilian application areas. Biometrics can be used to prevent unauthorized access to ATMs, cellular phones, smart cards, desktop PCs, workstations, and computer networks. It can be used during transactions conducted via telephone and Internet (electronic commerce and electronic banking). In automobiles, biometrics can replace keys with key-less entry devices
Biometrics technology allows determination and verification of one's identity through physical characteristics. To put it simply, it turns your body into your password. These characteristics can include face recognition, voice recognition, finger/hand print scan, iris scans and even retina scans. Biometric systems have sensors that pick up a physical characteristic, convert it into a digital pattern and compare it to stored patterns for identification
A person’s identity can be resolved in two ways: identification and verification. The former involves identifying a person from all biometric measurements collected in a database and this involves a one-to-many match also referred to as a ‘cold search’. “Do I know who you are?” Is the inherent question this process seeks to answer. Verification involves authenticating a person’s claimed identity from his or her previously enrolled pattern and this involves a one-to-one match. The question it seeks to answer is, “Are you claim to be?”
Verification requires comparing a person’s fingerprint to one that pass previously recorded in the system database. The person claiming an identity provided a fingerprint, typically by placing a finger on an optical scanner. The computer locates the previous fingerprint by looking up the person’s identity. This process is relatively easy because the computer needs to compare two-fingerprint record (although most systems use two fingerprints from each person to provide a safety factor). The verification process is referred as a ‘closed search’ because the search field is limited.
The second question is “who is this person?” This is the identification function, which is used to prevent duplicate application or enrollment. In this case a newly supplied fingerprint is supplied to all others in the database. A match indicates that the person has already enrolled/applied.
The identification process, also known as an ‘open search’, is much more technically demanding. It involves many more comparisons and may require differentiating among several database fingerprints that are similar to the objects.