Biometric Identification: What It Is and How It Works
Biometric identification is the technique and practice of using biometrics to identify users seeking access to protected systems. Biometrics are unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, that can be used for automated recognition. Biometrics can be used for authentication and identification purposes, depending on the application and the level of security required.
Authentication compares data for the person’s characteristics to that person’s biometric template to determine resemblance. The reference model is first stored. The data stored is then compared to the person’s biometric data to be authenticated. In this mode, the question is: \”Are you indeed, Mr or Mrs. X?\”
Identification consists of determining the identity of a person. The aim is to capture an item of biometric data from this person. It can be a photo of their face, a record of their voice, or an image of their fingerprint. This data is then compared to the biometric data of several other persons kept in a database. In this mode, the question is: \”Who are you?\”
There are two types of biometrics: physiological and behavioral. Physiological biometrics measure the shape or composition of the body, such as fingerprints, face, iris, retina, hand geometry, vein pattern, DNA, blood, saliva, or urine. Behavioral biometrics measure the actions or patterns of the person, such as voice, signature, keystroke dynamics, gait, or gesture.
Biometrics offer several advantages over traditional methods of identification and authentication, such as passwords, PINs, tokens, or cards. Biometrics are more convenient and user-friendly, as they do not require users to remember or carry anything. Biometrics are also more secure and reliable, as they are difficult to forge, share, lose, or steal. Biometrics can also provide additional benefits such as fraud prevention, identity verification, access control, law enforcement, border security, and public safety .
However, biometrics also pose some challenges and limitations that need to be addressed. Biometrics are not infallible and can be affected by environmental factors, such as lighting, noise, or dirt. Biometrics can also raise privacy and ethical concerns, such as data protection, consent, discrimination, or misuse. Biometrics may also face social and cultural barriers, such as user acceptance, trust, or awareness.
Therefore, biometric identification systems need to balance the trade-offs between performance and usability, security and privacy, accuracy and convenience. Biometric identification systems also need to comply with relevant standards and regulations to ensure interoperability and quality. Biometric identification systems are constantly evolving and improving with new technologies and applications that aim to enhance security and convenience for users.
Biometric Identification: Applications and Examples
Biometric identification can be applied to digital and physical scenarios, and itâs a solution that is used in defense, law enforcement, border control, healthcare, education, banking, and many other domains. Here are some examples of biometric identification applications in different sectors:
- Law enforcement: Biometric technologies have long been utilized as a secure means to identify alleged criminals. Fingerprint analysis is the most common and widely used biometric technique in forensics. Other biometrics such as face, iris, DNA, or voice can also be used to match suspects with crime scene evidence or criminal databases. Biometrics can also help in verifying the identity of victims, witnesses, or missing persons.
- Border control: Biometric identification is used to enhance the security and efficiency of border crossings and immigration processes. Biometrics can help verify the identity of travelers against their passports, visas, or other travel documents. Biometrics can also help detect impostors, fraudsters, or terrorists who try to enter a country using fake or stolen identities. Biometrics can also facilitate the enrollment and verification of frequent travelers in trusted traveler programs.
- Healthcare: Biometric identification can improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare services. Biometrics can help identify patients accurately and link them to their medical records, reducing errors and fraud. Biometrics can also help authenticate healthcare providers and staff who access sensitive data or resources. Biometrics can also enable remote patient monitoring and telemedicine services by verifying the identity of patients and doctors.
- Education: Biometric identification can enhance the safety and efficiency of education systems. Biometrics can help identify students and staff accurately and track their attendance, performance, or behavior. Biometrics can also help authenticate users who access online learning platforms or resources. Biometrics can also prevent cheating or impersonation during exams or assessments.
- Banking: Biometric identification can provide a convenient and secure way of accessing financial services. Biometrics can help identify customers and verify their transactions, reducing fraud and identity theft. Biometrics can also help authenticate users who access online banking platforms or mobile applications. Biometrics can also enable biometric payment methods such as fingerprint cards or facial recognition systems.
These are just some of the examples of biometric identification applications in various domains. As biometric technologies become more advanced and affordable, they will likely be adopted in more sectors and scenarios that require reliable and fast identification of individuals.