As defined in Computer Security Basics by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
Biometrics is the use of a persons unique physiological, behavioral, and
morphological characteristics to provide positive personal identification.
Biometric systems that are currently avaiable today examine fingerprints,
handprints, and retina patterns. Systems that are close to biometrics but are
not classified as such are behavioral systems such as voice, signature and
keystroke systems. They test patterns of behavior not parts of the body.
It seems that in the world of biometrics that the more effective the
device, the less willing people will be to accept it. Retina pattern devices
are the most reliable but most people hate the idea of a laser shooting into
their eye. Yet something such as monitoring keystroke patters people don't mind,
but it's not nearly as effective.
Biometric verification is forecast to be a multibillion dollar market in
this decade. There is no doubt that financial credit and debit cards are going
to be the biggest part of the biometric market. There are also many
significant niche markets which are growing rapidly. For example, biometric
identification cards are being used at a university in Georgia to allow students
to get their meals, and in a Maryland day care center to ensure that the right
person picks up the right child. In Los Angeles, they are using fingerprints to
stop welfare fraud. And they're also being used by frequent business travellers
for rapid transit through immigration and customs in Holland, and now at JFK and
Newark airports in the United States. It could also be used to simply prevent
one employee from punching in for some one else, or to prevent someone from
opening up an account at a bank using a false name. Then there is also the
security access market, access to computer databases, to premises and a variety
of other areas.
The Sentry program made by Fingerprint Technologies uses several devices
at once. The system first prompts for a user name and password. Then they must
have their fingerprint scan match what is on record. They can also use a video
camera for real time video to capture photographs which can be incorporated into
the data base. The time to scan and gain entrance to the building take from 6
to 10 seconds depending on what other information the operator wishes the user
to enter. The system also keeps on record three of the individuals finger
patterns incase one of the others is injured.
Biometrics is still relatively new to most people and will remain
expensive to purchase good equipment until it becomes more popular and the
technology gets better. And as people become more aware of how the systems work
they will become more accepting of the more secure systems and not shy away from
them as much. The future of access control security is literally in the hands,
eyes, voice, keystroke, and signature of everyone.
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