Biometrics is a scientific and technological authentication approach that allows a person to digitally identify themselves in order to gain access to systems, equipment, or data. Biometrics allows a person to be recognised and authenticated using a set of identifiable and verifiable data that is unique to them.
Biometrics is a Greek term that combines the words biometrics and metrics.
Bio stands for life, while metrics stands for measurement. The term “biometrics” is usually used to describe the study of people’s biological traits. Biometrics technology is now frequently utilised to identify and secure single people.
Biometric technology is mostly used for identification and access control, as well as identifying those who are being watched. A fundamental distinction between biometrics and other systems is that biometrics verification of physical information necessitates the presence of a person, which adds an additional degree of security because other forms of identification can be stolen, lost, or fabricated.
Biometrics has the potential to make authentication much faster, easier, and secure than traditional passwords, but businesses must be cautious about the biometrics data they gather. Biometrics are employed in security systems and to replace ID cards, tokens, and PINs.
Types of biometrics
There are two main types of biometrics identifiers depend on either physiological characteristics or behavioral characteristics.
1. Physiological Identifiers
Biometrics in physiology Morphological or biological identifiers can be used. For morphological examinations, fingerprints, the form of the hand, the shape of the finger, vein pattern, the eye (iris and retina), and the shape of the face are the most common.
- Facial recognition
- Iris recognition
- Retina scanning
- Voice recognition
- Vein recognition
- DNA matching
2. Behavioral Identifiers
Identifiers are a newer strategy in behavioural biometrics, and they are usually used in conjunction with another method due to their lesser reliability. These behavioural markers may become more prominent as technology improves. Behavioral identifiers are solely limited by the human imagination, unlike physical identifiers, which are constrained to a predetermined set of human features.
How Biometrics Works
Biometrics systems work by recording and comparing biometric characteristics. Biometrics system can seem complicated, but they all use the same three steps:
- Enrollment (using a sensor to identify the characteristic used for identification) – When you use a biometric system for the first time, it stores basic information about you, such as your name or an identification number. It then records or takes an image of your unique attribute.
- Storage (using a computer to read and store data) – Unlike what you would see in movies, most systems don’t save the entire image or recording. Instead, they examine your personality attribute and convert it into a code or graph. Some systems store this information on a smart card that you carry about with you.
- The next time you use the biometrics system, it compares the trait you offer to the information on file (using software that evaluates the characteristic, converts it to a graph or code, and executes the actual comparisons). Then it either accepts or rejects your claim to be who you say you are.
- When a person uses a biometrics system for the first time, their identifying characteristics are stored as a reference for future comparison. This reference may be saved in a central database or on a personal device such as a phone or a card, depending on the needs of the application.
History of Biometrics
Biometrics was a concept that existed for a few years. In the 14th century, Chinese merchants and their offspring were fingerprinted to distinguish them from the rest of the population. Today, fingerprinting is still utilised.
An Anthropologist named Alphonse Bertillon created the Bertillionage method of gathering body measurements to identify people in the 19th century. He noticed that while some physical characteristics of the human body fluctuate, such as hair length, weight, and so on, others, such as finger length, remain constant.
This method immediately fell out of favour when it was discovered that people with identical physical measurements can be mistaken for one another. Following that, Scotland Yard’s Richard Edward Henry devised a fingerprinting procedure.
Dr. Carleton Simon and Dr. Isadore Goldstein came up with the idea of biometric retinal identification in 1935. EyeDentify Inc. began doing research and development in 1976. In 1981, the first commercial retina scanning system became available.
John Daugman of Cambridge University created iris recognition in 1993. In Kosovo, the Biometrics Automated Toolset (BAT) was introduced in 2001, providing a solid way of identification.
Advantages of biometrics
As a result, there are numerous advantages to using biometrics in terms of its use, security, and other associated functions.
- Hard to fake or steal, unlike passwords.
- Ease of use and convenience.
- Change little over a user’s life.
- Are non-transferrable.
- Templates take up less storage.
Disadvantages of biometrics
On the other hand, no system is perfect, and biometrics has some drawbacks that must be taken into account.
- It is costly to get biometric technology up and running
- A database that stores biometric data can still be hacked, resulting in a data breach
- Injuries can cause a biometric authentication to not work ( a burn on a finger could negate a fingerprint scanner)
- False rejects and false accepts can still occur
- Some systems are harder to adapt for the elderly or those with disabilities
Are biometrics safe to Use
When it comes to biometrics, there are severe privacy problems. The following are some of the key biometric difficulties that have been identified:
- Any data gathering could be hacked at some point. Hackers may find high-profile data to be particularly appealing. The good news is that high-profile data is generally better protected.
- A biometrics database’s data may be more vulnerable than any other type of data. Passwords can be changed. Your fingerprint or iris scan cannot be changed. This means that if your biometric data is compromised, you may no longer have control over it.
- It is possible to duplicate some aspects of your physical identity. A crook, for example, may capture a high-resolution photo of your ear from afar or reproduce your fingerprints off a cafe glass. This information may be used to gain access to your devices or accounts.
- Biometrics legislation is still evolving, so your rights may change from one jurisdiction to the next. However, federal lawmakers may eventually create a cohesive law to address biometric privacy.