Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biometric ID technologies 'inherently fallible,' new report finds

Date:
September 24, 2010
Source:
National Academy of Sciences
Summary:
Biometric systems -- designed to automatically recognize individuals based on biological and behavioral traits such as fingerprints, palm prints, or voice or face recognition -- are "inherently fallible," says a new report, and no single trait has been identified that is stable and distinctive across all groups.

Biometric systems -- designed to automatically recognize individuals based on biological and behavioral traits such as fingerprints, palm prints, or voice or face recognition -- are "inherently fallible," says a new report by the National Research Council, and no single trait has been identified that is stable and distinctive across all groups. To strengthen the science and improve system effectiveness, additional research is needed at virtually all levels of design and operation.

Related Articles


"For nearly 50 years, the promise of biometrics has outpaced the application of the technology," said Joseph N. Pato, chair of the committee that wrote the report and distinguished technologist at Hewlett-Packard's HP Laboratories, Palo Alto, Calif. "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."

Biometric systems are increasingly used to regulate access to facilities, information, and other rights or benefits, but questions persist about their effectiveness as security or surveillance mechanisms. 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 says. It notes that when the likelihood of an imposter is rare, even systems with very accurate sensors and matching capabilities can have a high false-alarm rate. This could become costly or even dangerous in systems designed to provide heightened security; for example, operators could become lax about dealing with potential threats.

The report identifies numerous sources of uncertainty in the systems that need to be considered in system design and operation. For example, biometric characteristics may vary over an individual's lifetime due to age, stress, disease, or other factors. Technical issues regarding calibration of sensors, degradation of data, and security breaches also contribute to variability in these systems.

Biometric systems need to be designed and evaluated relative to their specific intended purposes and the contexts in which they are being used, the report says. Systems-level considerations are critical to the successful deployment of biometric technologies. 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.

The report notes that careful consideration is needed when using biometric recognition as a component of an overall security system. The merits and risks of biometric recognition relative to other identification and authentication technologies should be considered. Any biometric system selected for security purposes should undergo thorough threat assessments to determine its vulnerabilities to deliberate attacks. Trustworthiness of the biometric recognition process cannot rely on secrecy of data, since an individual's biometric traits can be publicly known or accessed. 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.

The report identifies several features that a biometric system should contain. Systems should be designed to anticipate and plan for errors, even if they are expected to be infrequent. 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 says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Academy of Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Academy of Sciences. "Biometric ID technologies 'inherently fallible,' new report finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100924121221.htm>.
National Academy of Sciences. (2010, September 24). Biometric ID technologies 'inherently fallible,' new report finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100924121221.htm
National Academy of Sciences. "Biometric ID technologies 'inherently fallible,' new report finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100924121221.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 26, 2015) — Dutch scientists have developed a smart bicycle that uses sensors, wireless technology and video to warn riders of traffic dangers. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Japan, Robot Dogs Are for Life -- And Death

In Japan, Robot Dogs Are for Life -- And Death

AFP (Feb. 25, 2015) — Robot dogs are the perfect pet for some in Japan who go to repairmen-turned-vets when their pooch breaks down - while a full Buddhist funeral ceremony awaits those who don&apos;t make it. Duration: 02:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

AFP (Feb. 25, 2015) — Forensic science, which has fascinated generations with its unravelling of gruesome crime mysteries, is being put under the microscope in an exhibition of real criminal investigations in London. Duration: 00:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Replace Damaged Hands With Prostheses

Researchers Replace Damaged Hands With Prostheses

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) — Scientists in Austria have been able to fit patients who&apos;ve lost the use of a hand with bionic prostheses the patients control with their minds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins