Definition

biometrics

Biometrics is the science and technology of measuring and analyzing biological data. In information technology, biometrics refers to technologies that measure and analyze human body characteristics, such as DNA, fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns and hand measurements, for authentication purposes.

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Authentication by biometric verification is becoming increasingly common in corporate and public security systems, consumer electronics and point of sale (POS) applications. In addition to security, the driving force behind biometric verification has been convenience.

Biometric devices, such as fingerscanners, consist of:

  • A reader or scanning device
  • Software that converts the scanned information into digital form and compares match points
  • A database that stores the biometric data for comparison

To prevent identity theft, biometric data is usually encrypted when it's gathered. Here's how biometric verification works on the back end: To convert the biometric input, a software application is used to identify specific points of data as match points. The match points in the database are processed using an algorithm that translates that information into a numeric value. The database value is compared with the biometric input the end user has entered into the scanner and authentication is either approved or denied.

Contributor(s): Lennard-Peter Sutherland
This was last updated in October 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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