Practical Guide to Biometric Security Technology

As organizations search for more secure authentication methods for user access, e-commerce, and other security applications,biometrics is gaining increasing attention. But should your company use biometrics? And,if so,which ones should you use and how do you choose them? There is no one best biometric technology. Different applications require different biometrics.
To select the right biometric for your situation,
you will need to navigate through some complex
vendor products and keep an eye on future developments in technology and standards.Your options
have never been more diverse. After years of
research and development,vendors now have several products to offer. Some are relatively immature, having only recently become commercially
available,but even these can substantially improve
your company’s information security posture.We
briefly describe some emerging biometric technologies to help guide your decision making.
WHAT IS A BIOMETRIC?The security field uses three different types of
• something you know—a password, PIN, or piece of personal information (such as yourmother’s maiden name);
• something you have—a card key,smart card, or token (like a SecurID card); and/or
• something you are—a biometric. Of these, a biometric is the most secure and convenient authentication tool. It can’t be borrowed,
stolen, or forgotten, and forging one is practically impossible. (Replacement part surgery, by the way, is outside the scope of this article.) Biometrics measure individuals’ unique physical or behavioral characteristics to recognize or authenticate their identity. Common physical biometrics include fingerprints; hand or palm geometry; and retina, iris, or facial characteristics. Behavioral characters include signature, voice (which also has a physical component), keystroke pattern, and gait. Of this class of biometrics, technologies for signature and voice are the most developed.

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