Biometrics Authentication

Passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN) are information that we need to remember since the day we started interacting with digital systems. Do we know the count of passwords we need to remember? Do we know if we forgot a password already? Some of these passwords also known as passphrase are long to remember that we need to come up with a pattern to create such passwords. We sometimes rely on tools such as a sticky, PDA or text file to store these lists of passwords.

Would it be easy to identify yourself as if you are been seen by another individual acknowledging their acquaintance with you? That’s exactly what a biometric authentication technology does. It uses a physical or psychological trait that the individual always has with him or her for identification and/or authentication.

In this system, the physical or psychological trait of an individual is measured, recorded and quantified to obtain a biometric enrollment. The system can be sure to a degree of certainty that a person is who he/she claims to be based on this initial enrollment. A template, which is a long string of alphanumeric characters that describes the characteristics or features of the person, is created at each enrollment based on a biometric algorithm. The algorithm that translates physical traits to a digital representation is called the biometric algorithm. The algorithm also allows matching of a newly created template (live template) with that of the initially created one. If the matching is not closed enough, the person will not be verified.

Some of the concerns while deploying biometric solution are increased false acceptance rate (FAR), false rejection rate (FRR) and failure to enroll (FTE). If a person were to match against another individual’s template, then it’s called an FAR. An FRR happens when the person is rejected against his own template. Sometime the system fails to enroll a person due to its limitation of capturing the individual’s trait and this is known as an FTE. Authentication systems that have relatively low FAR, FRR and FTE are good candidates for a biometric authentication system.

Biometric authentication system helps to capture one of the three types of credential factors required in an authentication system. The credential factor – something you are – when combined with what you know or/and what you have provides a strong assurance of the identity of the individual who is trying to authenticate himself or herself.

Some of the physical traits used in biometric systems are fingerprint, hand geometry, retina, iris, face, voice and gait. The use of each trait has its advantage and disadvantage depending on the context at which they are used.