Biometric Security: From Simple Applications to the Most Advanced Future Uses

© bloomua - Fotolia.com

© bloomua – Fotolia.com

Biometric security is becoming big business in the consumer market. At the same time, it is also becoming important for very high security applications. As one might expect, the level of sophistication of the systems involved varies tremendously depending upon the user. The simple scanner on a smartphone is nothing compared to the type of scanning that a government agency has available to it when checking to see if somebody should be excluded from entering the country, for instance.

According to an article in CNBC, the market for Global Consumer Electronic Biometrics – a term used in the report – is expected to grow by 40.45% between 2012 and 2016. Interestingly, part of the growth, according to the report, is expected to be due to the fact that people are increasingly using consumer devices to access very secure data, such as data regarding their bank account.

This has become a very competitive area, with tech giants such as Apple starting to include biometric identification on their consumer devices.

Some Applications

Just about everybody these days has a slew of different passwords that they use to access different resources. These passwords all have one common weakness.

A password can be subjected to what is called a brute force attack. This is, essentially, when another electronic device tries password after password until it gets the right password and, then, access to the device. This may seem rather improbable as a method of gaining access, given how many different words, nonsense strings of characters or numbers that the user may use to secure their device, but most hacks rely upon tried-and-true techniques. For example, dictionary-based attacks, which try word after word until they hit, are oftentimes successful.

Biometric data, according to Rohit Sethi in the Huffington Post is a more secure option. There is another significant advantage to biometric data for users of consumer devices. While a password may be able to be reused on many different services, this isn’t necessarily true of biometric data. If a user has biometric data that allows them to open the deadbolt on their door and get access to their smartphone, for instance, it’s highly likely that the two different scanners involved use different data. As the article points out, a hacker who got access to the person’s fingerprint from one data source may not have data that is useful for the other fingerprint scanner.

Advanced Users

Where more advanced uses are concerned, the discussion usually turns to military bases, hospitals, banks, schools and other locations that have very significant security needs. In such applications, biometric technology can allow people to easily access areas to which they are authorized and prevent people who don’t have authorization from getting into the same areas without the drawbacks that come with physical access control methods, such as keys, cards and so forth.

Even on the scale of nations, biometric data is becoming more important. India, for instance, is launching an ambitious project to provide its more than 1 billion citizens with identification based on biometric data.

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