Biometric authentication is a type of security that depends on an individuals unique biological traits to verify that they are who they say they are.
Biometric authentication systems compare physical or behavioral characteristics to data in a database that has been verified and authenticated.
Authentication is validated when both samples of biometric data match.
Biometric authentication is commonly used to control access to physical and digital resources such as buildings, rooms, and computers.
Biometric identification employs biometrics to identify a person, such as fingerprints or retina scans, whereas biometric authentication uses biometrics to verify that persons are who they say they are.
Methods of biometric authentication
To digitally identify someone or provide them permission to access a system, the following technologies can be used:
Biometric gadgets that use chemicals
Genetic material is used in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) matching to identify a person.
Biometric devices with a visual component
Subjects are identified via retina scans, which examine the arrangement of blood vessels in the back of their eyes.
Iris identification uses a photograph of a persons iris to identify them.
Fingerprint scanning is a method of identifying persons by their fingerprints.
Hand geometry recognition uses a mathematical description of the distinctive properties of peoples hands to verify identify or authorize transactions.
The distances between various elements of the hand, such as finger length, finger breadth, and the contour of the troughs between the knuckles, are measured.
The unique qualities and patterns of peoples faces are used to validate their identity in facial recognition.
The device recognizes 80 nodal points on a human face that are used to create numeric codes known as faceprints.
Ear authentication confirms a users identity based on their distinct ear shape.
Signature recognition relies on pattern recognition to identify people based on their signatures.
Scanners for veins or arteries
Finger vein ID uses the vein patterns in a persons finger to identify them.
Behavioral identifiers are a type of behavioral identifier that is used to
Gait is the study of how humans walk.
Typing recognition identifies a persons identify based on their distinct typing traits, such as speed.
Biometric gadgets for hearing
Voice ID uses features formed by the structure of the mouth and throat to identify people based on their voice.
Graph depicting the various types of biometric authentication
Biometrics can be used to digitally identify someone or provide them access to a system.
What do biometric authentication devices consist of?
A biometric device consists of three parts: a reader or scanning device, technology to transform and compare biometric data collected, and a database for storage.
A sensor is a device that detects and records biometric information.
It could be a fingerprint reader, voice analyser, or retina scanner, for example.
These gadgets collect data and compare it to previously recorded information to see whether there is a match.
The software analyzes the biometric information and compares it to points in the database.
The majority of biometric data is saved in a database that is linked to a central server that houses all of the data.
Another approach of storing biometric data is to hash it cryptographically, which allows authentication to be accomplished without direct access to the data.
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What are some of the applications for biometric authentication?
Officers of the law
For identification purposes, law enforcement, state and federal authorities employ several types of biometric data.
Fingerprints, face traits, iris patterns, voice samples, and DNA are among them.
The Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS, for example, is a database for identifying fingerprints.
It was first utilized in the early 1970s as a tool for police departments to speed up and improve their otherwise manual fingerprint identification process.
Previously, a skilled human examiner had to match a fingerprint image to a database of fingerprints.
If there was a match, the examiner would compare the two prints again to be sure they were identical.
In just a few minutes, AFIS can match a fingerprint against a database of millions of prints.
An electronic passport (e-passport) is the same size as a regular passport and incorporates a microchip that stores the same biometric data as a regular passport, including the holders digital photo.
A digital image of the passport holders photo is stored on the chip, which is connected to the owners name and other identifying information.
Before granting the passport, a country-issuing body verifies the applicants identification using fingerprints or other biometric information and compares the data in the chip to the information provided by the applicant.
Biometrics are used in hospitals to more accurately track patients and prevent mix-ups, while biometric authentication is used in clinics and doctors offices to keep their patients information secure.
Hospitals can retain and access a patients medical history using biometric data.
This data can be used to guarantee that the appropriate patient receives the right care, whether that means identifying patients sooner in an emergency or preventing medical errors.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of biometric identification?
Both convenient and safe, biometric authentication is a good option.
Biometric authentication is difficult to duplicate since it relies on unique traits for verification.
Passwords and ID cards, for example, are not as safe because they can be readily stolen or guessed.
While biometrics has several benefits for specific businesses, there are also concerns about its application.
Organizations may, for example, ignore the security of data-driven security solutions.
If malicious actors intercept biometric data as it is being transmitted to a central database, they can use it to execute another transaction fraudulently.
Bad actors, for example, could access sensitive data such as private messages or financial information by capturing an individuals fingerprint and using it to access a fingerprint-secured device.
Another possible concern with biometric authentication is that, once a system is in place, an organization may be tempted to use it for purposes other than those for which it was designed, a phenomenon known as function creep.
For example, a firm may find the technology valuable for staff monitoring and management, but after installing a biometric system, the company may discover that it can track an individuals exact location.