How to protect important information with biometric technology


First year CIS students; Norma Mayhew, Paige Palmer and Jean ‘Louis Pinet presenting the facts about Biometrics. Conway photo.


   With the growing threat of identity theft and security breaches, the need for the government agencies, big companies, and even home computer owners to protect themselves is a growing need, says Computer Information Systems student Norma Mayhew.

     Biometrics is a method of using an individual’s behaviours or characteristics to positively identify them and to make sure they are the only ones to access their information.

       Biometric technology is the next step in high tech security.

       Mayhew said one such biometric technology is the use of Dynamic Signature Varification, which uses the handwriting of the computer user to confirm his/her identitiy.

        “It is not just the image that is verified but also the speed in which they write, and the pen pressure that they use. It is more of a three-dimensional characteristics that they use.”

       She said these security measures are becoming more widely used anywhere from big companies to home computers.

      “Even laptops can use biometrics. Some use voice recognition and fingerprint scans.”

       Paige Palmer, who is also a student in the CIS program, said different companies and government offices are using biometrics to gain access to confidential information.

        “For example, finger print scans of employees are often used instead of punching in numeric codes.”

         Mayhew said it all depends on how secure they need their enviroment to be.

         “The idea behind biometrics is that the use of passwords or ID cards can be stolen or forged or someone could have been given the password by someone from within the company.”

     “With biometrics it is physical or behavioural characteristics of a person which grants access to the information, making it much harder to forge these things.”

       The type of information, whither it is a scan or an image of an employee, is placed into a database and when someone makes a request for the information they wish to access, they would have to make one of the scans in the database to acquire it, she said.

      “It runs on the fact that no two people are alike.”

       Palmer said even identical twins have their own individual set of characteristics that could be pick up in a scan.

      “They have different finger prints and retinal characteristics for example. Everyone has their own unique characteristics.”

      These systems are advanced enough to tell even if someone is conscious, she said.

      “For example if someone had cut off an employee’s finger to gain access to the information, it would not work because there would have to be a pulse or temperature for the print to be properly identified.”

      She said with the constant improvements in this technology, its usage is becoming more and more common as information is becoming more valuable.

       “Finger print and retinal scans are the most popular.”

        Mayhew said voice scans are a popular choice for home computers and laptops because all the user needs is a usb port to plug in a microphone or the computer might already have one built in.

         “Voice scans work in one of two ways. Text dependent, which the user would have to not only have their voice match the scan but also say a particular phrase to gain access. Text independent on the other hand, the user can use any phrase they choose because it is only the voice that has to match.”

      The sound is broken up into segments and each of the words spoken by the user is compared to the sample in the data base, she said.

      “If there is a match it checks to see if the tones and the voice pattern are are match as well.”

      Mayhew said as long as the need for secure information continues to grow, more biometric systems will be put in place to protect that information.   



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