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Biometric technology has been deployed for a number of reasons, including physical access control, protection from identity stealing, strong authentication for application access, secure check cashing (this technology can compare a user’s face against a database), voice-activated transactions and access to PDAs and other mobile devices and platforms. These applications use biometrics to provide uncompromising authentication.
Biometrics will increasingly be deployed to meet the requirements of personal privacy legislation under GLB in financial services and HIPAA in health care.
Facial recognition viewing systems will be employed to identify criminals and will certainly be deployed as part of the homeland security initiatives.
Biometric technology authenticates users based on the unique characteristics of an individual user. These characteristics are not easily stolen, lost, forgotten or imitated, making biometrics a better alternative than token technologies such as smart cards and other “tow factor” authentication systems. Biometrics has been successful as part of both physical and technology access solutions.
Authentication is one of the three As--authentication, authorization and accountability--for user administration and control. Though authentication is critical, solving the other two are challenges that enterprises must address first. It is difficult to administer authorization for access to applications or data in a large organization with tens of thousands of users. This will require significant expenditure to solve and will push biometrics to the back burner in the near term.
One of the knocks against biometrics, especially voice and face recognition, is that the system has high false positives. This means an authorized person is denied access because the system cannot process and match to the database even slight deviations in an individual’s appearance.
Smart cards and other two-factor solutions have become the accepted form of strong authentication systems. Companies have a significant investment in this technology, which works close to 100% of the time (compared to 90 to 98% with biometrics). This makes biometrics a tough purchase decision. The department of defense just issued its one-millionth smart card--evidence of how entrenched and successful two-factor authentication is. An organization of that size would be hard-pressed to switch to a new technology any time soon.
Biometric vendors must continue to integrate closely with three As solution vendors such as IBM, RSA, Integrity and CA. Biometric vendors should partner with online information solutions, including portals, online exchanges and other intranet infrastructure providers. Targeting financial services and health care verticals will lead to early wins and long-term recurring revenue.
Targeting universities and health clubs will help educate and broaden the acceptance of biometric technologies among a diverse user base. These systems should be sold at deep discounts in order to provide the technology as an educational and viral marketing activity.
Vendors should also focus on wireless technology providers. They will be integrating voice biometrics into cell phones to enable strong authenticated purchasing.
Enterprises must remember the problem they’re trying to solve and stay focused on it. If strong authentication is the business or security driver, then biometrics is a good solution. But other forms of two-factor authentication need to be considered. If the problem is implementing a corporate-wide user permission control system, then biometrics is a good solution for the strong authentication part of the problem.
But authorization and accountability must be solved; indeed, these two issues should be targeted first before biometrics is undertaken. Enterprises must also consider whether their online platforms are biometric-enabled.
Organisations with a turnover greater than $3 million per year (i.e. some pubs, clubs, education institutions, corporations and government departments) which are using, or considering, biometrics (i.e. finger scans, iris scans, voice prints or facial scans), comply with the National Privacy Principles (NPPs) of the Australian National Privacy Act.
Biometrics is personal information just like a passport, a driver's licence, identity card or another identity document. If you copy or scan or collect any type of personal information from your customers you need to understand the National Privacy Principles. Remember, if you are collecting any personal information, you are handling someone’s identity. If it is a biometric you are collecting something very personal indeed.
Biometrics covers a variety of technologies in which unique identifiable attributes of people are used for identification and authentication. These include (but are not limited to) a person's fingerprint, iris print, hand, face, voice, gait or signature, which can be used to validate the identity of individuals seeking to control access to computers, airlines, databases and other areas which may need to be restricted.
Biometrics is also a term used in statistics particularly in science, medicine and forestry (refer to the International Biometric Society), not related to biometric technology. It has been around for longer than biometrics for identity verification or recognition. In the mid to late 90s there was often confusion like this in the media when "biometrics" was used by the security and the pharmaceutical/medical world.
Biometrics can be used in almost any application that requires the accurate identification of an individual. This ranges from computers where a fingerprint scan on the mouse can verify the identity of a user to nuclear power plants where various biometrics are used to restrict access to the critical systems.
There are many thousands of biometric deployments around the world too numerous to list here.
As a member you can also access the Biometrics Institute Annual Industry Surveys launched in May 2010.
Biometrics are currently being used in the national identification card schemes of many countries including Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
E-government and online authentication:
Governments are looking at ways to authenticate individuals when dealing with government services online. New Zealand, Australia and other countries have been conducting work in this area.
Research into the use of face recognition for inclusion in passports. Includes significant input into the development of the new international biometric data standards. Since 26 October 2005 all newly issued New Zealand and Australian passports have a biometric identifier to continue to meet visa waiver requirements for travel to or through the USA. This is an extension to the original deadline of 26 October 2004. Australia and New Zealand plans to meet the 26 October 2005 deadline for getting the microchip into passports as do several other countries around the world. Between 300,000 and 350,000 New Zealand and about 1 million Australian passports are issued each year.
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service - Smart Gate
First fully operational facial recognition solution for border control in the world. Smart Gate is available at Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Auckland International Airports. It will be progressively introduced into further Australian international airports with Perth and Sydney scheduled next.
This is a difficult question and probably the main barrier to wider use of biometric systems. If a person's biometric information is stolen, then their privacy has definitely been breached. However, if certain standards in information collection and protection are met, then biometrics can be a privacy enhancing tool. It is the aim of the Biometrics Institute to see these standards and procedures put in place.
Once a person stops growing their fingerprints and other biometrics are largely constant.
One myth is that biometrics is new and unsafe. Biometrics in the modern world are as old as the use of a signature, or the attaching of a photo to a document. The safe and secure storage of your biometrics should be no more concerning than providing your billing information to the businesses you already trust with your personal details. Almost all identity theft today happens from traditional sources (for instance, stealing or making drivers licenses or passports). In fact, biometrics can act to help protect your identity.
It’ll be a lot harder in the future for an acrimonious relationship breakup to result in a partner creating havoc in your life because they know all your passwords or secret answers, and it’ll also be a lot harder for criminals to take over your identity. Examples abound of the break-down of traditional identity systems based on name matching where the wrong people are detained, and sometimes even jailed because of a lack of other ways to establish identity.
On average biometrics these days are not much more expensive than most other secure second factors. Many biometric systems work from relatively inexpensive sensors such as cameras or phones, and even fingerprint sensors these days can be made cheaply enough that they are starting to become standard on laptops.
Unfortunately we live in an unsafe world, where there are fanatics that are dedicated to violently killing themselves and those around them. They are often well resourced, have good planning and intelligence and significant patience. To think that biometrics will prevent these people and those behind them from perpetrating more crimes is largely wishful thinking.
It will make the process slightly more difficult, as the creation of fake identities is harder. But the recruiting pool is sadly deep and the intelligence services cannot know or keep a track of everyone that poses a risk. Where biometrics can help is in quickly identifying individuals after an event (which can prevent further attacks) or identifying suspicious behaviour and tracking this. The next set of Al-Qaida operatives will probably have quite legitimate biometrics stored in government databases under their own names.
A template can be thought of as the refined and processed information about the distinguishing characteristics of a particular individual. In the case of fingerprints it might be the location and direction of the minutiae or for iris the position of the filaments around the eye center. The information in a template must be enough for the recognition algorithm to distinguish between one individual and every other individual the system might ever see (possibly everybody!).
So, while the system does not store all the details of a person (the full face or fingerprint image for instance), it must store enough data so that if you knew how the recognition algorithm operated you could reconstruct a likeness of that individual sufficient to be able to fool that system. This is one reason why it is important that templates are encrypted when they are stored.
An individual enrolling into a biometric system should check if the organisation is a Biometrics Institute member and a signatory to the Biometrics Institute Privacy Code.
The Privacy Code requires subscribers to comply with the Code Privacy Principles. Principle 12.3 addresses this issue: "Secondary analysis or function creep of biometric information collected for purposes such as authentication or identification is not permitted without express free and informed
Consent. For example biometric information collected for the purposes of authentication and identification shall not be used to examine that information in search of genetic patterns or disease identification without express free and informed consent."
Enrolments in biometric systems shall be voluntary, unless required by law.
Individuals who have enrolled in a biometric system shall be informed of any change in the scope or purpose of the system.
Individuals who have enrolled in a biometric system shall, where possible, and upon request, be given the opportunity to have their biometric information removed from the system.
Auditing of biometric systems by a third party shall be implemented.
A biometric is A measurable physical characteristic or personal behavioural trait used to recognise the identity of an enrollee or verify a claimed identity.
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