Biometrics Information

What can ABI do to help me decide what biometrics can do for my organization?

ABI can do any or all of the following:

  • Present biometrics at the board, management, and operational levels to provide an understanding of what can and can’t be done before any project is initiated
  • Assess the security requirement
  • Determine which biometric, if any, is appropriate
  • Recommend the implementation approach, equipment and resources required, and likely results
  • Set up and manage a pilot system to demonstrate its operational value
  • Advise on the environmental factors (location, traffic flows, equipment locations, etc) to maximize performance
  • Work with the project team to manage the implementation
How do biometrics work?

Almost all biometrics work in fundamentally the same way. The finger/face/iris etc is scanned and the locations of key features of the pattern relative to each other are determined. This information is transformed into a digital string, which is then added to the individual’s record. When a match is undertaken, the process is repeated and a second string is generated. By matching this string with the one on the individual’s record and comparing the result to a user-specified acceptance threshold, the system can indicate the likelihood of the individual being who they claim to be.

What role does biometrics play in ID card, passport and drivers license systems?

There are two primary functions of a biometric system:

  • To verify that someone is who they claim to be (known as 1 to 1 matching)
  • To identify an individual when all that’s available is a fingerprint, photograph, etc. (known as 1 to many matching)

In the case of ID cards, passports, and drivers license systems, the principal need is generally to confirm that the person presenting the document is the person to whom it was issued. This is achieved by matching the biometric encoding taken when the document was issued, with a second biometric encoding taken when the verification is undertaken, for example at an immigration point.

How are biometrics compared?

While the emphasis will differ for different applications, the following criteria are used to determine which biometric should be used in a specific application:

  • accuracy
  • speed
  • intrusiveness
  • environmental tolerance
  • vulnerability to being deceived
  • cost
How well do biometrics work?

Used in the right environment, biometrics can make a major contribution to improving security if expectations are correctly and realistically set. It has to be emphasized that no single biometric that can be used in real-time is 100% accurate. However when used in conjunction with a personal identifier such as an ID card or PIN, it can be a very effective means of verifying that an individual is who they claim to be. Its value is generally as an aid to recognition, rather than guaranteeing someone’s identity.

Why are biometrics now moving to centre stage?

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in concerns over security and identity fraud. Biometrics are seen as offering substantial value in countering this by offering a means of verifying identity not available from other approaches.

What is the best biometric?

This is like asking “what is the best vehicle?” There is no single answer – it all depends on what it’s to be used for, and the environment in which it has to operate. Different biometrics have very different strengths and weaknesses in different environments.

What are the most common biometrics?

While fingerprints have been used successfully in a law enforcement environment for over 100 years, additional biometrics have emerged in recent years, including hand geometry, iris recognition, retina recognition, signature verification, vein patterns, facial recognition, and DNA.

What are biometrics?

Biometrics use technology to determine an individual’s unique personal characteristics, either to identify them, or to verify that they are who they claim to be.