As we rapidly move towards the new millennium, Security and Access Control are becoming more important than ever before. Passwords, though still extensively used, are fast becoming a hazard, requiring an enhanced method of security. Positive Identification of individuals is now a serious business considering the fact that people have to be allowed access to areas only if they are authorized.
Attendance is to be recorded in all kinds of workplaces eliminating “buddy Punching” and “ghost workers”. Money is to be paid over “wires” - the internet obviating the need for people to go to banks. Criminals have to be caught and proven guilty without a doubt, social and medical benefits have to be paid by the state.
Newer chip designs and supporting software, has spurred the development of solutions based on these crucial needs beyond boundaries. Parts of the human body - the hand, the iris/retina, the face and the voice, all provide a means of positive verification.
Commendable progress has been made by various companies using the above parts of the human body with various levels of success. Although Card Based systems have been in the market for several years now, the latest and most secure technology involves the use of the human body - both physical and behavioural - for positive verification and identification - known as Biometrics.
Biometric verification is an automated method whereby an individual’s identity is confirmed by examining a unique physiological trait or behavioural characteristic, such as a fingerprint, retina, or signature. Physiological traits are stable physical characteristics, such as palm prints and iris patterns. This type of measurement is essentially unalterable. A behavioural characteristic — such as one's signature, voice, or keystroke dynamics — is influenced by both controllable actions and less controllable psychological factors.
Because behavioural characteristics can change over time, the enrolled biometric reference template must be updated each time it is used. Although behaviour based biometrics can be less expensive and less threatening to users, physiological traits tend to offer greater accuracy and security. In any case, both techniques provide a significantly higher level of identification than passwords or cards alone.
Biometric traits are unique to each individual, they can be used to prevent theft or fraud. Unlike a password or personal identification number (pin), a biometric trait cannot be forgotten, lost, or stolen. Today there are over 10,000 computer rooms, vaults, research labs, day care centers, blood banks, ATMs and military installations to which access is controlled using devices that scan an individual's unique physiological or behavioural characteristics.
Biometric identifiers currently available or under development include fingerprint, face recognition, keystroke dynamics, palm print, retinal scan, iris pattern, signature, and voice pattern.