Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Biometric Security And Determining Between Fact And Fiction

It would be natural nowadays to be concerned with biometric security since it has become so relevant in applications of technology and frequently described in books or even films which have a science-fiction presence. Privacy concerns and government intrusion are popular topics these days, and these fears go hand in hand with the growing demand for safe, reliable security techniques that go beyond the use of a mere lock and key. Long before computer and also finger printing technology, biometrics really has a long history which is a fascinating concept for anyone to imagine. 

“Biometrics” is less of a sci-fi word than it sounds; it really pertains to the physical characteristics of an individual that distinguish them. Height, weight, eye and hair color, scars, birthmarks or deformities, and tattoos are typical illustrations of biometrics. Throughout history, a person's unique characteristics have been used for identity purposes in differentiating one person from another. Records of physical traits were kept in ancient Egypt to keep track of pyramid workers; law enforcement and employers kept track of people in their personal records long before computer databases came into being; our society has used biometrics for many years with driver’s licenses and ID cards. 

Physical characteristics focusing on unique and unchanging traits of a individual is essentially what makes up the modern-day form of biometrics security. Height, weight, and hair color could be changed; tattoos can be added and removed; even some physical features and birthmarks can be changed through cosmetic surgery. What biometric companies concentrate on with their security tools are the characteristics that don’t change, such as fingerprints and hand geometry, voice patterns, and the iris and retina.

People tend to be fearful or often time paranoid of data collecting in the form of scanning or storage of personal information by a government agency, in which they view it as an invasion of one's privacy. The media, entertaining though it is, has helped to fuel such fears through movies and books depicting how such technology is capable of turning a law-abiding citizen’s everyday life into a living nightmare. A nameless identity having the capacity to collect or store data of a personal nature is usually something people would prefer not to happen. Without knowledge or consent, information that is personal such as face recognition software could be used against any individual in this new age technology giving us all something to possibly worry about. Identity fraud is rampant through stolen social security numbers and personal information, so the notion of our privacy being further invaded by the misuse of our own biological information is definitely a scary thought. This data while not totally infallible, could potentially be used against us and be fabricated or manipulated leading to false accusations or possible arrest.

This new technology has drawbacks and mistakes are likely to occur however, the potential of this occurring to a wide number of people is purely a myth. The information scanned into biometric computers by company for security purposes is stored as a numeric algorithm that’s only useful for the company’s security reader, and can’t be utilised by an outside source. Biometric databases for any private company is often unreadable or not available to other agencies such as various police departments, wanting to access this information so there is a sense of security involved.

Biometric security is another way companies are using improving technology to protect their property and to keep their personnel safe. The practice of using biometrics for security and identification purposes has been used for a long time, and the advantages to society have outweighed the supposed risks. As new strategies to collecting and controlling the information are being developed, it’s natural to have some amount of public fear. Many myths surrounding this type of technology is often erased through research and fact checking when it comes to using biometrics for personal and business uses.

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