INTRODUCTION: BIOMETRICS

Ever since the September 11 terrorist attacks, there has been a higher level of concern regarding safety and security measures and a need to improve them at U.S. borders, airports, and public areas. For this reason, both the government and private corporations are turning their attention to the field of biometrics.

The science of biometrics involves analyzing biological, physiological, and/or behavioral characteristics that are unique to a single individual and using them to recognize or verify the identity of that human being. Today, biometric technologies are typically used to analyze human characteristics for security purposes.

There are several different types of biometric technologies, i.e., iris (eye) scanning, retinal recognition, facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, hand geometry, voice recognition, infrared imaging, keyboard dynamics, and handwriting dynamics. A few new, innovative approaches are also being examined to determine their potential for use in biometric analysis, such as ear shape, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), keystroke (typing) rhythm, and body odor.

Some biometric technologies are more reliable than others, but they are all based on characteristics considered to be unique to a single individual. For example, it is common knowledge that no human being has the same fingerprint as another. Therefore, fingerprinting is a reliable technology. On the other hand, systems that utilize voice recognition or keyboard dynamics and patterns are less reliable since both voices and typing styles can be mimicked.

Because of the high costs associated with biometric security measures, they are still in the developmental stages. However, these types of security systems are currently in limited use at airports, banks, and other institutions. Now that security has become a much higher priority worldwide, corporations and governments alike will have no choice but to take the necessary steps to protect themselves, their customers, and/or their citizens.

 

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