Biometrics

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Biometrics literally means measurement of a person’s physical characteristics. In cybersecurity, it means to analyze a person’s biological characteristics using statistical methods to identify and authenticate a person. In today’s world we can see biometric authentication system mostly everywhere starting from smartphones to attendance record systems. They provide better security than passwords and passphrase in many cases. Physiological characteristics that are unique to individuals and don’t change over time are used in biometric technology. Such characteristics include, but are not limited to, fingerprint, retina, facial structure, voice patterns and so on.

The advantages of using biometric security are:

  • Biometrics are easy to use as compared to typing passwords or passphrases.
  • Biometric authentication is fast.
  • Biometric authentication cannot be forgotten or lost.
  • Since the biometrics are present on person’s body, the chances of them being stolen like passwords are not there.
  • They require minimum user intervention as biometrics can be scanned automatically and authentication provided without human interaction, e.g. opening of an automatic door by scanning a person’s face or iris.
  • It gives a better user experience.

Disadvantages:

  • They are not 100% accurate.
  • Since biometrics last a lifetime, if they are somehow cloned, they can be used forever.
  • They are not fully secure as there has been cases where prosthetics and other mimicking was were used to bypass both fingerprint authentication and iris scans.
  • Digitally stored biometrics in an internal form in a device can be stolen and used for malicious tasks.
  • Initial cost of installing biometric infrastructure is there.

According to Wikipedia, “India’s National ID Program also known as AADHAAR is the largest biometric database in the world”.

This post is written by Agnidhra Chakraborty.

For Wikipedia entry on Biometrics, click here.

For more posts on Cybersecurity, click here.

For more posts in The Cyber Cops project, click here.

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