Biometric authentication is the process of using a unique physical or behavioral trait as a method to confirm the identity and determine the access profile of a person. This type of identification has greatly increased in popularity with the advent of faster computer processors and increased accuracy in the data collection devices. Common examples include fingerprint scanning and voice activated locks.
There are two types of authentication that use biometrics: physiological and behavioral. Physiological biometrics are based on a unique physical trait, such as a fingerprint, a palm print, DNA, or face recognition. In this type of system, a scan of the trait is taken at a secured site and connected to the profile of the person. Security rights are assigned to this profile, based on the person's job or security access level. This information is stored in a secured system connected directly to the individual locks or security stations.
In order to gain access to a specific space or resource, the person must present the correct physical trait to the scanner. The system then compares the sample to the database. Only when a match is obtained can the person obtain the requested access. The strength in this type of biometric authentication is the truly unique trait that must be used to gain access. It is very difficult to fake a fingerprint or face to bypass security.
Behavior authentication is based on the actual behavior of the person. Common examples of this type of authentication include voice, gait, and speaking rhythm or diction. While it is fairly easy to mimic the sound of another person's voice, the actual tone or note of their speech is much harder to duplicate. This type of security is most often used to access computer files or other system maintained security.
The type of data collected and stored depends on the application and the intended use. For example, a business can install fingerprint scanners at every building, and staff must scan their fingers to gain access to the facility. This is a very simple use of the technology, and the cost of the individual scanners is steadily decreasing over time.
Using the very same system, the employer can decide to track additional information from this activity. For example, the software can be expanded to record the date and time the person scanned his or her fingerprint. It can also be programmed to look for patterns, such as the same people scanning in and out of the buildings on a recurring basis. The length of time spent in each building, as well as the other buildings accessed within the same time period, can also be tracked.