Biometric identification technology ‘inherently available’

September 25th, 2010 - 12:09 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Sept 25 (ANI): Biometric identification systems are inherently prone to fault, says a new study.

A National Research Council report said that systems that are designed to automatically recognize individuals based on biological and behavioural traits such as fingerprints, palm prints, or voice or face recognition - are “inherently fallible”.

“While some biometric systems can be effective for specific tasks, they are not nearly as infallible as their depiction in popular culture might suggest. Bolstering the science is essential to gain a complete understanding of the strengths and limitations of these systems,” said Joseph N. Pato at Hewlett-Packard’s HP Laboratories, Palo Alto, Calif.

The systems provide “probabilistic results,” meaning that confidence in results must be tempered by an understanding of the inherent uncertainty in any given system, the report said. And that even systems with very accurate sensors and matching capabilities can have a high false-alarm rate.

For example, biometric characteristics may vary over an individual’s lifetime due to age, stress, disease, or other factors.

Effectiveness depends as much on factors such as the competence of human operators as it does on the underlying technology, engineering, and testing regimes. Well-articulated processes for managing and correcting problems should be in place.

Any biometric system selected for security purposes should undergo thorough threat assessments to determine its vulnerabilities to deliberate attacks.

In addition, secondary-screening procedures that are used in the event of a system failure should be just as well designed as primary systems, the report says.

Additional research is needed in all aspects of design and operation, from studying the distribution of biometric traits in given populations to understanding how people interact with the technologies. In addition, social, legal, and cultural factors can affect whether these systems are effective and accepted, the report said. (ANI)

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