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Introduction

Biometric systems have become an integral part of society since the post 9-11 era. The issue of security is crucial in the modern world and terrorism is not the only threat that is mitigated by biometric technology. Border security, the financial industry and critical governmental infrastructure are other primary within society that is protected through the use of this specialized computing science. Biometrics systems measure and analyze biological data. They’re used to identify certain individuals by their physical characteristics and their personal behavior. This form of science of uses specific identifiers for the purpose of distinguishing one person from the next. The information that is presented here will explain how this form of computing science works and how it is commonly used within the general public.

How does Biometric Work

Biometric technology might seem complicated but in fact it’s quite simple once it is reduced to its basic core. The three phases of a biometric system include enrollment, storage and comparison. When an individual interacts with biometric technology, basic information about their personal identification and physical characteristics are usually recorded. A biometric system will usually record a person’s personal information such as their name, address, social security number and other personalized information. While the technology is recording the personal information it will also capture an image or recording of a person’s specific trait. This trait could be a retina or palm scan. The next thing that a biometric system does is to store the image or recording of a person’s trait and personal information after it has been recorded. A system then analyzes a person’s trait and then transfers it into a graph or a code. Then when a person uses a biometric system again, the computer within the system compares their current trait with the recorded information that is on file. At this point a system will either accept or reject an individual trying to pass through a biometric check point. All biometric systems work through the use of three components and they include a sensor that records a person’s characteristics, a computer for storing information and unique software that analyzes and transforms a person’s unique traits into a code or graph. The computer and software will perform comparison whenever a person uses a biometric system more than once.

Technologies that are used for Biometrics

There are different types of technology that is used to collect, store and compare data. The components that are used for this purpose can perform this process in a number of different ways. Some biometric systems can collect behavioral or physiological characteristics through the use of palm print recognition, hand geometry or dynamic signature. Other data recording information includes iris and vascular pattern recognition as well as components for collecting information about a person’s face or voice. All systems use censors in order to collect specific data about a person and each sensor is designed exclusively for each type of component. • Palm Print Recognition - Palm print recognition technology is designed to read impressions, dents, curves and grooves within a person’s palm. An individual will lay their palm on a scanner and this sensor will even measure the pressure and angle in which a person’s palm is placed onto the device. Every palm print is unique to an individual person. • Fingerprint Recognition - Biometric fingerprint recognition technology simply scans a person’s hand and records the characteristics of the skin that lies on the tips of their fingers. A person places their hand on the surface of the sensor which is a fingerprint reader in order to complete the scan. • Hand or Finger Geometry - Hand and finger geometry units are used to authenticate people and not so much to identify them. This type of system uses sensors such as a digital camera and light to record, store and compare shadows that are cast by person’s hand. Once a person places their hands onto the flat surface of a reader the unit will measure a person’s length, width, thickness and curvature of their hand or fingers. • Dynamic Signature - All people have their own unique way of writing down information. A handwriting or dynamic signature sensor records a person signature by evaluating the pressure that they use to write and the speed that they require for forming letters. A handwriting sensor can recognize how a person forms their letters and the specific way that they cross specific letters or add dots during the course of writing a word. This technology can also determine the angle and direction of a person’s writing. The sensors that are used for this technology includes a touch-sensitive writing surface or a pen that contains special sensors. • Vascular Pattern Recognition - The network of veins that travel throughout a person’s body is completely unique to that individual. Vascular pattern recognition technology is also known as a vein recognition system. This system uses a digital camera that uses infrared light to take a picture of a person’s finger, writs or palm or the back of their hand, while it is placed on or near a scanner. Once a picture is taken with this special camera it creates a reference of the veins that lie within a person’s hand. • Iris Recognition - Iris recognition technology uses an iris scanner as it censor for collecting information about a person’s pupil, iris and eyelashes. A computer uses near-infrared light to a make a person’s pupil very black once this happens a computer can easily isolate and record the structure of a person’s pupil and iris. Every person’s eyes are different from every other individual and this technology does not confuse one person with the next. • Face Recognition - Every person has unique facial features which makes them look different from the next individual. The distance between their eyes, the depth of their eyeball sockets, the width of their nose, the shape of their cheekbones and the length of their jaw line are different characteristics of a person’s face. Face recognition technology uses software to measure nodal points on a person’s mug. All humans have at least 80 nodal points on their face and facial recognition technology uses a3D scanning software to gather a picture of a person’s face by using their nodal points. • Speaker Recognition - Voice recognition is also known as a voice print and this particular technology uses sensors such as a telephone or microphone to collect samples of a person’s voice. Once this sample is collected a computer will record different aspects of a person’s vocal speech. The system will be able to distinguish an individual voice by breaking down characteristics such as vertical and horizontal axis and the frequency level that a person speaks. Also, it will create different shapes on a graph to show the pattern of a person’s speech.

Where are Biometrics Used?

• Government use biometrics to protect important strategic military locations, sensitive areas and to secure facilities. They also use this technology to protect federal, state and local computer systems that are critical to the operation of society. • Law enforcement uses biometric technology in their fight against crime and in the prison system. • Border security is another area where biometrics is used to help keep illegal aliens from illegally crossing over the border into America. • Airports use biometric systems to fight against terrorism and to ensure that flights are safe for passengers. • Banks use this technology to secure vaults and important documentation and items. • Amusement parks use biometric technology to keep track of their employee’s hours and work habits. They also use this technology to keep people out of sensitive areas within on the park’s grounds. • Schools are now experimenting with the use of biometric technology. A few colleges and public schools are now using this technology to secure their building and grounds. • Biometric passports are similar to regular passports except they use a specific characteristic that has been recorded into a system as a means to identify a person. This characteristic could be a finger or hand print. • Surveillance is important for tracking terrorists and minding the habits of criminals and biometric systems help law enforcement or government agencies to gather information on individuals and to store and compare information through a database. • Military forces use biometric technology as a means to secure critical locations and vital assets. They also use the technology for specific weapon systems at their disposal.

The Pros and Cons of Biometric Systems

All biometric systems have advantages and disadvantages which makes them practical or impractical for use.

Advantages of Biometrics

• Enhanced Security • Can’t be Copied • Can’t Be Shared • Convenient • Auditable Trail • Accuracy • Can’t be Lost • Reduced Paperwork • Costs

Disadvantages

• Security • Adaptability to Rate of Change • Scalability • Misuse • Accuracy • Regulation of Use • Financial Costs • Privacy • Time to implement • Consistency

Types of Biometric Standards

The nature of biometric technology naturally affects the privacy of people. This technology has to be regulated by the government in order for it can be legally implemented within society in a practical way. Biometric equipment can be used to create chaos by destroying or disrupting the infrastructure and economy within many metropolitan areas. Terrorists and crime organizations also have the ability to utilize these tools in order to conduct major scale criminal activities or to carry out catastrophic attacks. Presidential oversight is needed to ensure that this technology is being used in way that does not infringe on the public’s rights. Federal regulations also ensure that the wrong people cannot use biometric tools to cause damage to nations and communities.

Presidential Oversight

On June 5, 2008 President Bush signed the “Biometrics for Identification and Screening to Enhance National Security” directive. This particular directive created a framework that regulates biometric systems and how they are used by the government. This directive also helps to establish federal guidelines on how this technology must be used in regards to protecting people rights. Other directives have also been placed into effect and they include:

HSPD-12

Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD 12 is used for creating a common biometric identification standard for federal employees and contractors.

HSPD 11

This particular directive is necessary for comprehensive terrorist-related screening procedures. ===HSPD 6 This directive provides guidelines about integration and the use of screen information. All of the directives control different aspects of federal biometric system usage and they include: • Technical Interfaces • Data Interchange Formats • Application Profile Standards • Performance Testing • National Institute of Standards and Technology • International Committee for Information Technology Standards • Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC 1)/Subcommittee 37 (SC 37) • Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) States and local municipalities can establish their own guidelines for biometric use. However, many state and cities implement federal guidelines and regulations for biometric technologies.

Technology


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