What is Biometric Security? - Definition, Systems & Devices

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Raymond Blockmon

Raymond has earned a bachelor's degree in computer information systems and a master's degree in organizational leadership.

Biometric security devices measure unique characteristics of a person, such as voice pattern, the iris or retina pattern of the eye, or fingerprint patterns. With biometrics, it can be extremely difficult for someone to break into a system.

Biometric Security Overview

Biometric security devices play a crucial role in verifying a person's identity by enforcing access control methods through their unique biological traits. In this lesson, we will cover optical, fingerprint, and voice recognition, which are used to identify and authenticate a person, as well as cover the pros and cons of using these devices.

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  • 0:04 Biometric Security Overview
  • 0:25 Retina and Iris Recognition
  • 1:37 Fingerprint Recognition
  • 2:30 Voice Pattern Recognition
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Retina and Iris Recognition

Retina scanners use the blood vessels in the back of the eye for authentication. The blood vessel pattern in the back of the eye is unique to the individual. This method is very intrusive and is not widely accepted because it breaches a person's medical privacy. For example, possible discovery of disease in the eye or other medical conditions may alert the company and can cause employment issues.

The iris scanner, which measures an individual's iris pattern, is non-intrusive. Each person has a different color pattern in the iris, and therefore, the iris scanner is used to measure these characteristics. It is more popular within the security field.

Replay attack (also known as a playback attack) is when a person uses someone else's credentials without their permission. The chances of replay attacks are very low on retina and iris scanners because it is nearly impossible to copy the retina and iris of someone else to use for impersonation. While retina and iris recognition systems do keep information and areas safe from intruders, these systems are very expensive.

A good way to remember that the retina scanner is the more intrusive of the two when it comes to medical privacy is: RetINa is INtrusive.

Fingerprint Recognition

Fingerprint scanners are the least intrusive out of the group because they only measure the fingerprint. They measure the whorl, loop, and arch patterns of the finger, which are unique to everyone. Fingerprint scanners are also the easiest to implement and are cost effective. Fingerprint scanners do not disclose any medical information; therefore, they are widely used in the industry in regards to access control. They are so popular and effective that fingerprint scanners are now being used on mobile devices and even on cars.

Although it is uncomplicated and inexpensive to implement, there are high chances for replay attacks since this type of system allows for easy impersonation. For example, if you press your thumb against the back of a gummy bear, you will be able to see your thumb print. The same gummy bear with the lifted fingerprint can now be used to fool a fingerprint scanner and gain unauthorized access.

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