The Computer Revolution/Security/Biometrics

What is BiometricsEdit

Biometrics is the use of such biological properties as fingerprints, retina scans and voice recognition to identify people. Biometrics is becoming very popular as a means of identification. These methods of identification are not just used for law enforcement or in the imagination of science fiction writers any more either. Businesses often use biometrics to ensure access to buildings and information to only those that require it. Private and public places often use video surveillance. It is very possible that biometric identifiers will soon be used in passports, driver's licenses, and perhaps a future national ID card.

For example, biometrics is being used in Iraq to identify police, prisoners, authorized guns owners, and criminal suspects.

Biometrics is "the technology that takes physical or behavioural characteristics of individuals and converts them into digital data." These characteristics are then encrypted into a system, such as an individual card, from which comparisons can then be made.

Biometric systems are mostly computerized, automated systems that use physio-biological or behavioural measurements of the human body as an indicator of the presence of a particular person. The stand-alone fingerprint reader is the most common used. It controls access to computer systems, like notebook computer, or various facilities. A built-in fingerprint reader is normally used to control access to the device which it's built into.

Many fear that biometrics may lead to a loss of individuality, privacy and freedom. Many people do not like to be scanned and feel uneasy about having their bodily data digitally stored along with other personal information.

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How Reliable Are BiometricsEdit

Some security systems can be fooled if a person wears a hat, a beard, sunglasses or even a mask. Lighting and camera angles have a large effect on how accurate a face will show up on a system. Some people feel that facial recognition may result in a violation of privacy if their pictures are used without their knowledge.

These are some things that most people do not take into consideration.

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Biometrics: Use of Iris ScanningEdit

Patented in the late 1980s, iris scans' first use was to identify prisoners in a Pennsylvania prison. They have begun to be instituted to identify "the good guys" at international airports, where frequently flying passengers are allowed to use iris scanning technology to move more quickly through security checkpoints. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina; the Flughafen Frankfurth Airport in Germany; and London's Heathrow airport, among others, use iris scanning technology for this purpose.

According to "", "Iris cameras perform recognition detection of a person’s identity by mathematical analysis of the random patterns that are visible within the iris of an eye from some distance. It combines computer vision, pattern recognition, statistical inference and optics.Of all the biometric devices and scanners available today, it is generally conceded that iris recognition is the most accurate. The automated method of iris recognition is relatively young, existing in patent since only 1994."

The iris of the eye is the colored ring around the pupil of every human being and no two iris' are alike. Each are unique in their own way, exhibiting a distinctive pattern that forms randomly in utero, a process called chaotic morphogenesis.

Some medical and surgical procedures can affect the overall shape and color of an iris but the fine texture remains stable over many decades. Even blind people can use this scan technology since iris recognition technology is iris pattern-dependent not sight dependent.

Furthermore,"", states that, "the iris is also mostly flat and controlled by 2 muscles so it helps make the iris movements more predictable then facial recognition. Even genetically identical twins have completely different iris patterns. Iris cameras, in general, take a digital photo of the iris pattern and recreating an encrypted digital template of that pattern. That encrypted template cannot be re-engineered or reproduced in any sort of visual image. Iris recognition therefore affords the highest level defence against identity theft, the most rapidly growing crime".

The imaging process involves no lasers or bright lights and authentication is essentially non-contact. Today’s commercial iris cameras use infrared light to illuminate the iris without causing harm or discomfort to the subject.

Before scanning of the iris takes place, the iris is located using landmark features. These landmark features, and the distinct shape of the iris allow for imaging, feature isolation and extraction. Localization of the iris is an important step in iris recognition because, if done improperly, resultant noise (i.e.: eyelashes, reflections, pupils and eyelids) in the image may lead to poor performance.

The general uses of iris recognition so far have been: substituting for passports (automated international border crossing); aviation security and controlling access to restricted areas at airports; database access and computer login; premises access control; hospital settings including mother-infant pairing in maternity wards; "watch list" screening at border crossings; and it is under consideration for biometrically enabled National Identity Cards.

It was announced in April 2012 that the Defense Department is preparing two large scale tests to prove whether biometrics can control who enters military facilities without impeding the flow of traffic.

According to "", for more than a decade, the DoD (Department of Defense) has used fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition technology to detect terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq and in other countries. But as an approach to physical access, the military has only in a limited way put their Common Access Cards (CACs) with biometric data on them to full use.

""There are some quick wins happening in DoD around physical access," said Brian Hunt, the Army's chief of the future applications branch in the Biometrics Identity Management Agency, during the FOSE conference in Washington Thursday. "The Pentagon Force Protection Agency … has developed a system that is in place at the Mark Center in [Alexandria,] Virginia. It is not yet turned on, but they have gone through phase one, which is the enrollment of the workforce population, several thousand. It uses the DoD CAC and the application is when you come to work you put your CAC card down on a little entry turnstile and then you have a choice of either putting your index finger down or looking straight ahead at an iris scanner. In about six seconds, the system validates a couple of things, that your biometric matches what's on the card and then it matches to the database. It raises the security posture beyond what a normal swipe card would do." '

The Army has shown the value of biometrics in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiers are using handheld devices to reach back into their database and the FBI's database when they come across potential terrorists.


Biometric Hand Scanner

An example of a persons handprint signature.

Since every human being has a different and fingerprint signature, many different security systems use a hand and fingerprint recognition system in order to ensure that the proper people are logged into the system. Many safes employ the fingerprint and hand print recognition software that makes it possible for only one person to be able to open a safe that has a fingerprint signature required. Many companies and agencies have that software in use if they have people dealing with sensitive data and material.