Biometrics are New Technological Tools in Computer Security

Biometrics are New Technological Tools in Computer Security

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As a result of the evolution in the field of biometric computer security tools, a new class of techniques and methods for user identification has erupted. Fingerprint and hand patterns, voice recognition, iris and facial scans, as well as skin patterns and smart cards, have all been used in justifying individuals on who they claim to be based on their unique characteristics. Although still relatively new, these innovative technologies are already being demanded by not only consumers but as well as the government to help find new methods of passport usage, border control, and mere security matters (Kooser, 2006, p.74). Fortunately, biometric technology has already reached a level of development that allows its potential acceptance into this current day and age.
So far in the development of biometrics, fingerprint scanning has taken main control of the market. Ink fingerprints have been used for years by police in investigations to identify criminals. Now with technological advances, the use of small digital imaging devices has replaced old ways of capturing fingertips. Portable or built into keyboards, fingerprint scanners have the ability to capture the print, digitalize it and convert it into mathematical characters. Additionally, when used for password recognition it is clear that the main reason for the biometric is simply because individuals can not remember their usernames or even passwords. The efficiency of this technology is so precise that it is faster and easier to login, impossible to forget because it is and individuals own finger, and nearly unreasonable to lose because in most cases the digital scanner is built into the computer (Kok, 2006, p. 576). In fact fingerprint biometrics is being highly considered by the government to be placed on boarders as well as passports. With today’s war on terror many official feel that it is necessary to take in all precautions and heighten the United States security (Mocny, 2005 p.38). Biometrics can absolutely help move forward in government security.
Although hand biometrics is not nearly as popular as fingerprint recognition within computers, this expressive body part can be used to identify individuals on a wider basis. Capture units, which are the devices that can receive the biometric hand print, have the capability to withstand temperature and weather damages. And most devices can still recognize the hand even when it is dirty, something a detailed fingerprint scanner can not (Kooser, 2006, p.74).
Speech is so common to our everyday lives that it is often forgotten that voices are distinct and unique to every individual.

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In computers, voice recognition systems validate actual voices, as opposed to speech recognition, which merely allows computer users to avoid their keyboards and use their voices to enter text. The idea of speech recognition was pioneered in the late 1970’s by IBM. The software was mainly created to bypass keyboard usage and additionally assist individuals with disabilities that prohibit theirs ability to type through communication or in word documents (Mocny, 2005, p.38). Because the voice recognition system required hardware such as good sound cards, quality microphones, and additional training programs, many users felt overwhelmed with the criteria and continued using keyboard technology. Today, technology has moved forward from the days of speech recognition in just word documents and now individual’s voices can be used as security tools. In this technology, a system recognizes the biometric dimension of an individual’s voice and then is used to confirm identity through digital comparison amongst a database. Each person's voice has different acoustic and behavioral qualities that, together, create a unique profile of their speech. Gregory Anderson, who wrote Smart Computing In Plain English, declares that, “Voice recognition works best with a set pass phrase or sequence of verbal cues, and background noise or sound distortion can affect the results” (2005, p.43). Usages of biometric voice authorizations are now being found not only in government, but in stores to avoid credit card fraud, as well. When checking out at the cashier stores have hidden microphones that can match the consumer to their credit card. With this technology, if the credit card does not match the voice of the consumer, credit card companies can conveniently find and track down the individual committing fraud. However, with all technology there are concerns that have been raised. For instance, glitches in the systems, surrounding noises that may defect the accuracy of the recognition, and perhaps in a situation of logging into a computer, some individuals would just rather not say out loud their password. And even though voice recognition could be one of the most essential biometrics, setting up the system can take time and effort (Kok, 2006, p.577). But it is for certain, when comparing trying to hack fingerprint and voice biometrics, you can easily slice off someone’s finger, but it is uncertain how anyone could steal an individual’s voice.
Similar to the uniqueness of a snowflake, iris’s or better known as an individual’s retina, consist of delicate interactions between shapes and colors. Unlike previous techniques that scanned the inner blood vessels of the retina, iris scans do not call for intense lights and are therefore less invasive. The scan by a small digital device captures the distinctive and detailed dimensions of the iris and in doing so converts it into a comprehensive mathematical encryption. Once in the computer system, Iris’s can be processed and defined quickly with a high level of accuracy (Mocny, 2005, p.38). This computerized security tool has now even made its way into school districts. In New Jersey, the National Institute of Justice, a research branch of the U.S. Department of Justice, issued a grant valued more than $369,000 to further the government’s school safety study. “The iris recognition technology system uses video cameras to register the colored ring around an individual's pupil. The unique markings of the iris are compared against a database and, if that biometric information can be matched, the system will grant the individual access to the building.” Claimed a representative from Hewlett-Packard, a member of the justice committee, who goes on to state, “The system can grant of deny access in less than two seconds” (Kooser, 2006, p.75). Additionally, along with fingerprints there has been discussion of placing possible iris scanners at ATMs, to further reduce fraud.
Irregardless of the growing popularity of plastic surgery, research has shown that the face individuals are born with tend to remain distinctive throughout ones life. The faces curves and contours give advancement to facial recognition technology. Facial biometric techniques use digital pictures to create mathematical formulas of an individuals face. As all biometric recognition systems the face dimensions are then compared in the security database of the computer. However, this approach requires a larger capture device that needs clear lighting to be able to perfume its task, making the technology merely useful in fixed locations (Sausner, 2006, p.29).
The latest of all biometric technology is the skin analysis. “Skin pigmentation, in each person is structurally unique with skin layers varying in thickness, interfaces between skin layers, collagen fibers, elastic, capillary bed density and location differ.” Professor, Sharon Desmond–Paradiso at the University of Indiana proclaims (Sausner, 2006, p.30). Using surface texture analysis, a template is extracted and processed into a “skin print”. When combined together with other biometric systems, the levels of accuracy in identify an individual become outstanding.
The last of the biometric technologies so far developed are smart cards, which in fact are not just biometrics but biographical information, as well. Smart cards are the size and shape of plastic credit cards with one or more embedded integrated circuit chips on it. These circuit chips provide memory capacity to the computer to store biometric and biographical information. Additionally, smart cards are a considerable way to secure biometric information in a portable data file that does not require any connection to a central database for matching. Furthermore, smart cards replace entering in passwords or usernames by automatically claiming the identity of the user. It can be said that smart cards are a powerful back up combined with biometric systems, because it can verify who you are with something that you physically carry or posses (Shelly, Chasman & Vermaat, 2007, p. 370).
In short, biometrics can be thought of as the most accurate and secure system technology can produce in the present day. In between the different leading biometric technologies such as, fingerprint, hand, voice, iris, face, skin and smart card recognition, these means can be commended superior to common passwords. Passwords can be forgotten or stolen and possessions, such as driver’s license and social security number cards can not ensure positive identification of a person. Unlike passwords and possessions, biometric identifiers are inevitably linked to the individual themselves and thus cannot be forgotten, counterfeited, or stolen and no one can gain access to a person’s identity.


Works Cited


Anderson, G. (2005, August 5). Hello Me, It's Me Again. Smart Computing in Plain English, Vol. 16 Issue 8. (pp. 42-44).

Kok, R. (2006, August 9). Biometrics solve multiple-password entry problem. Manufacturing Business Technology. Vol. 34, Issue 8. ( pp.576-579).

Kooser, A. (2006, November 2). Identify Yourself. Entrepreneur, Vol. 34 Issue 11. ( pp. 74-75).

Mocny, R. (2005, December 17). Experts Unite on Biometrics. R&D Magazine, Vol. 47 Issue 12. (pp. 38).


Sausner, R. (2006, September 12). Token Appreciation. Bank Technology News. Vol. 19. (pp. 28-30).

Shelly, G., Chashman, T., Vermaat, M. (2007) Discovering Computers Fundamental (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Thomson Course Technology. (pp. 181, 370-371).

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