BIOMETRICS Q & A

05 June 2006

Biometrics…

Getting answers to your Questions!

Elvey Security Technologies recognizes that the field of biometrics is evolving with increased growth in biometric devices and applications worldwide. Thus, Elvey is pleased to announce that the company has been nominated as preferred supplier of TriFusion Ltd, manufacturers of intelligent biometric solutions.

The future of biometric technologies is promising.Biometrics are now not just used to control physical access, but are used in a variety of industries and circumstances. Biometric technology is improving and falling in price as vendors increase revenue. As a result, funding is becoming more widespread and the development of biometrics is on the rise. Biometric technologies will soon be the common way to gain access even into your own personal computer system.

Elvey Security Technologies is committed to going beyond offering mere security devices and systems. Elvey offers complete peace of mind. Thus the company together with TriFusion Ltd looked at frequently asked questions concerning biometric technologies to shed light on the trend and help customers make informed decisions.

What is biometrics?
Biometrics is concerned with the measurement and identification of individual traits and characteristics. At the moment, unique attributes, such as fingerprints, voice, face and eye recognition can be measured and are subsequently used for the purpose of identification or verification. Different techniques are currently available: finger scanners, iris recognition, face recognition, voice verification, to name just a few. Usually, individual needs determine the most suitable method.
 
To put it into a nutshell, biometric identification always checks who you are, instead of what you know (passwords, codes, PIN) or what you possess (key, card). Nowadays, when people are regularly flooded with passwords, biometric identification offers a convenient and attractive alternative in order to check someone’s identity.
 
What is biometric authentication?
Biometric authentication is the automatic identity verification or identification, based on individual physiological or behavioural characteristics. The authentication process is done via computer technology without violating anyone’s privacy. Biometric characteristics are recoded first and then codified into a set of data which will be finally compared to the template. Nowadays, the available biometric solutions include finger scans, face or iris recognition and many more.
 
What is applied biometric?
If biometric is used for security matters, such as access control for example, it is possible to check a human being’s identity electronically. Therefore, not only fewer security personnel is necessary, but also the average access time as well as the probability of potential misuse is reduced. Biometric solutions ensure an extremely high standard for different security applications.
 
Where is biometric used nowadays?
At the moment biometric applications can be found in many different areas, such as during border control, to secure computer networks and financial transactions, as well as access control or time recording.

Available products range from door locks, safes, PC system (incl. safeguarding files and confidential content), computer mice, keyboards, web cameras, time and attendance check.

Biometric systems provide excellent convenience and a very high level of security.
 
Why do passwords and PINs decrease the level of security?
In order to consider a password as being “safe”, it should be as long as possible, not to be found in a dictionary and even include a few special characters such as “§”, “+”, “?”. Needless to say, that you are not allowed to write it down and in addition, it should be changed every 3 months. Since there are passwords for many areas (mobile phones, computers, online banking, debit cards, etc.), users tend to apply the same all round password. Generally speaking, they are rather machine-friendly, instead of user-friendly.
 
Why use biometric technology?
The answer to this question is simple! Individual biometric characteristics are unique and cannot be transferred. Security applications based on biometric identification/verification offer a high level of convenience. Furthermore, information cannot be lost, stolen or forgotten. Finally, it is possible to reduce administration and maintenance costs considerably.
 
What advantages does Biometric recognition offer, as opposed to traditional security systems and methods?

· Increased convenience

· Eliminates the inconvenience of remembering passwords

· Eliminates the need for password maintenance

· Eliminates shared passwords

· Reduces maintenance and security costs

· Eliminates the use of even more keys

· Eliminates the use of remembering your swipe card

· Increased security for confidential files

· Deters fraudulent account access

· Biometrics cannot be lost or forgotten

· Extremely difficult to forget

· Highly accurate, uses distinctive features

· Faster Login
 
How do biometric devices work?
Biometric devices compare a recorded and encrypted set of data with a template.
 
How does biometrics protect personal information from unauthorized disclosure?
A biometric record is an encrypted template stored in digital form. The record itself cannot be used to reveal someone’s identity; the probability of fraud is reduced to a minimum. With regard to the level of security, biometric offers an extremely high level of protection.
 
Is there a possible health risk?
No! The methods used to gather the personal biometric data are not invasive and pose absolutely no threat to physical health or well-being. When properly installed biometric devices enhance both security and ease of access for the individual user. Since the 1980s, when biometric systems were first used, no health hazards have been reported.
 
Are there any predictions for the future of biometrics and fingerprint recognition?
JP Morgan has predicted that the size of the biometric authentication market is going to increase steadily and will become standard for authentication and systems access. At the moment, fingerprint recognition is still in its early adoption phase but is gaining awareness and acceptance rapidly. Passwords, PINs, cards and signatures are eventually going to be replaced entirely.
 
Which measuring units can be used for verification of the performance potential of a biometric authentication system?

False acceptance rate (FAR)

FAR represents the number of times, when unauthorized persons are accepted as authorized. As the false acceptance can lead to damages or fraud, the FAR is an extremely important rate for security.

Failure to recognize rate (FRR)

The FRR is the number of times an authorized person is rejected. The FRR can be used as a rate for convenience, as the failure to recognize normally is very troublesome.

Failure to enroll (FTE)

FTE indicates the number of persons which, on average, can not be enrolled at all. If someone already enrolled is rejected after several trials, one speaks about a failure to acquire (FTA). These FTA rates can be added to the FRR and therefore do not have to be listed separately.

Why is it that not all biometric systems are equally secure?

Generally speaking, the degree of security of a system not only depends on the technology and the algorithms, but also on the overall security concept and the parameters set. The potential solution for an individual customer has to be adjusted to the respective system. However, any adjustments do influence the FAR and FRR. A lower level of security means lowering the FAR and FRR. A higher level of security means increasing the FAR and FRR.

Elvey Marketing