Biometrics can be taken literally as ‘life measurement’ but the term is usually associated with the measurement and use of unique physiological characteristics to identify an individual such as fingerprints, DNA or the iris. The phenomenon is mostly associated with security because biometric traits can be used for authentication, where a special characteristic of an individual is used to identify them.
Identification using biometric characteristics is preferred over traditional passwords and PIN based methods for various reasons, example, the person to be identified is required to be physically present at the time of identification, prevents ‘buddy punching’ which is a common term used to describe unauthorised persons using a valid card or fob to gain access into a restricted area. Identification based on biometric fingerprint scanning removes the need to remember a password or carry a token which also eliminates theft of cards or fobs and therefore constant replacements. Biometric options are also more cost effective as individuals can be easily removed from the system at no extra cost. Whereas in card based systems the organisation will have to issue a new card to all newcomers.
Everyone has a unique, unchanging fingerprint. A fingerprint is made of a series of ridges and furrows on the surface of the finger and these are used to determine the uniqueness of the fingerprint. Once registered on the fingerprint scanner, the image of these patterns is converted into a code through a mathematical sequence called an algorithm which effectively becomes a digital form of you. This is stored on a database for comparison which grants authentication and access through the secured door.