How Is Biometric Information Used to Identify People?

© Black Jack - Fotolia.com

© Black Jack – Fotolia.com

Biometric information can provide a reliable, positive identification of a human being that increases security and makes access control more easily implemented. Biometric technology utilizes a variety of different measurements of characteristics and traits to identify human beings. This information may be used in many different ways and there is a variety of devices on the market that make biometric identification cost effective and easy to implement.

How it Works

According to Wyzant, biometric involves measuring physical characteristics to identify a person positively. This means, of course, that the physical characteristics measured have to be unique from one individual to the next. For instance, fingerprints are unique to each individual, and that makes them among the most popular ways to biometrically identify someone. This type of biometric identification, in fact, is used on consumer devices such as laptops and cell phones.

There are other ways that biometric systems can use information to identify people. For instance, voice recognition holds a great deal of promise as a means of biometrically identifying people, but it is currently less reliable than fingerprint identification, according to Wyzant.

The Devices

The biometric information is stored digitally and can be compared to the information provided by an individual when they attempt to gain access to a secured resource. That resource can be digital information, such as information stored on a server that may need to be very restricted and secured. The restrictions could also apply to a specific location. This has obvious implications for environments such as airports, where access needs to be very restricted and where security is of the utmost concern.

According to the Wyzant article, there have already been millions of instances where biometric technology has provided identification at San Francisco airport since 1991. In fact, on a heavy day, there can be more than 50,000 identifications done via biometric technology.

That installation has in excess of 180 doors and 18,000 employees to identify. The cost of cards and other forms of physical identification for such a large number of employees would obvious be very expensive. With biometric identification, a permanent form of identification can be generated that is actually more secure than cards and other forms of ID—which may be forged—and which is less expensive at the same time.

Security Concerns

According to the DHS, biometric ID is already used to deny access to the US to thousands of people who are ineligible for one reason or another. According to the agency, this helps to prevent identity fraud and other forms of crime from being conducted in the US and prevents the people who would engage in it from being able to get into the nation.

Biometric identification can be used to secure resources both digital and physical. This is one of the most powerful implications of this technology. The same credentials that are used to access a bank account, online, for instance, could be used as a passport, to access high security areas and more.