Biometrics consists of automated methods of
recognizing a person based on unique physical characteristic. Each
type of biometric system, while different in application, contains at least one
similarity: The biometric must be based upon a distinguishable human attribute
such as a person's fingerprint, iris, voice pattern or even facial pattern.
Today fingerprint devices are by far the most popular form of biometric security
used, with a variety of systems on the market intended for general and
mass market usage. Long gone are the huge bulky fingerprint scanners; now a
device can be small enough to be incorporated into a laptop
A fingerprint is made up of a pattern of ridges and furrows as well as
characteristics that occur at Minutiae points (ridge bifurcation or a ridge
ending). [See Diagram Below]. Fingerprint scanning essentially provides an
identification of a person based on the acquisition and recognition of those
unique patterns and ridges in a fingerprint.
The actual fingerprint identification process will
change slightly between products and systems. The basis of identification,
however, is nearly the same. Standard systems are comprised of a sensor for
scanning a fingerprint and a
processor which stores the fingerprint
software which compares and matches the fingerprint to the predefined
database. Within the database, a fingerprint is usually matched to a reference
number, or PIN number which is then matched to a person.s name or account. In
instances of security the match is generally used to allow or disallow access,
but today this can also be used for something as simple as a time clock or
In large government organizations and corporations,
biometrics plays a huge role in employee identification and security.
Additionally some data centers have jumped on the bandwagon and have implemented
biometric scanners to enhances
remote access and management by adding another
layer of network
system administrators. Unfortunately the cost of implementing fingerprint and other
biometric security scanning in data centers is still quite expensive, and many
centers still rely on ID badges while waiting until biometric technology becomes
a little more pocket-book friendly.
Today companies have realized that fingerprint scanning is an
effective means of security. While the cost of implementing biometric scanners
in larger organizations and data centers is still quite costly, we did find
several fingerprint scanning devices which would fit into the budget of many
small offices and home users. These home and small office products are designed
to protect your hard drive, notebook or even to remove the need
for users to remember multiple passwords.
Micro Solutions LockBox ($199.99
for the 80GB LockBox)
This biometric fingerprint provides security access to the hard drive. A
built-in sensor scans finger prints of authorized users (up to 8) to unlock the
drive for use. Use as a single hard drive, or partition it into a maximum of 7
logical private drives. Users can be assigned access to ALL or only SELECT drive
IBM's T42 Notebook ($1499.99 & up)
Select T42 models combine the IBM Integrated Fingerprint Reader and the IBM
Embedded Security Subsystem. The Integrated Fingerprint Reader is built
conveniently into the palm rest area of your notebook, making your passwords
available at your finger tip. Having to remember and enter passwords is
eliminated with a swipe of your finger, and security software is preloaded for
an integrated solution out of the box.
Microsoft Fingerprint Reader
Microsoft.s Fingerprint Reader is designed to remove the hassles of remembering
passwords. Instead of typing in a username and password on Web sites and Windows
logon screens, you scan your fingerprint and software handles the translation
and allows access.
An excellent resource with information on biometrics technology, applications,
case studies, and more.
Security.com News Article
"Most data center managers today cannot justify the cost and complexity of
installing and maintaining biometric authentication tools. They rely on other
means to control access to data centers, like ID badges and physical security
Small Business Computing -
Biometrics Slow To Catch On In Networks
fingerprint security systems for retailers that cash checks. Some 200 merchants
use the Herndon, Va., company's biometrics fingerprint scanners to verify a
check casher's identity in an attempt to reduce fraud.
Vangie 'Aurora' Beal
Last updated: November 18, 2004