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What is Biometric Security?

Identity Theft

Biometric security involves security systems that recognize who a person is based on various traits. Biometric security employs various technologies to scan people’s fingerprints, eyes, handprints, and more, to allow them access into buildings, into databases, and more.

Understanding Biometric Security

Biometrics can look closely at physical characteristics, including but not limited to:

  • Face and hand recognition
  • Recognizing the iris of the eye with an iris scan
  • Palm and fingerprints
  • DNA examinations
  • Examination of body odor

Biometrics can also examine behavioral characteristics, including but not limited to:

  • The way a person walks
  • Voice, or other examinations of how a person talks

Biometrics work primarily in two ways:

  • Unknown Individuals: Biometrics compare the physical and behavioral characteristics of an unknown individual against a database in an effort to identity that individual. In this type of comparison, one individual is compared to many others.
  • Known individuals: Biometrics can also be used to verify identities, particularly of those in a place of employment to confirm that they are who they say they are. Using biometrics and individual IDs, this form of security compares one individual to one record, as opposed to many in the previous example.

Biometrics can protect individuals as well as national security. Those attempting to commit identity theft can be caught more easily, since biometric security measures will make it simpler to identify those stealing IDs and other forms of personal information.

On a national security level, biometric security is considered a key element in the fight against terrorism. Several branches of the federal government, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investing in biometric technologies and vast databases for storing various forms of physical and behavioral biometrics. These tools are designed to help identify those most wanted in global War on Terror, as well as in most wanted cases nationwide. US passports are currently being fashioned with facial biometrics in part of this effort.

However, proponents of civil liberties and privacy argue that biometrics infringe on one’s personal right to privacy, and lends to “big brother” efforts on the part of the federal government to keep tabs on the comings and goings of US citizens.

While there may be some controversy surrounding biometric security, it appears to be the movement of the future in personal, corporate, and national security efforts, and if you have data or locations you want to go the extra mile to protect, biometric security may provide the answer.

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