Imagine a world where a single device is used to authenticate your identity by scanning your finger and identifying your DNA sequence using your blood cells. Since the DNA sequence of a person, obtained from under their skin is unique, it can be inferred that duplication of identification documents, credit card frauds and identity theft would be virtually impossible. This is the future that biometric technology is hoping to create.
With the advent of online banking and e-government processes, criminals are utilizing sophisticated technology to counter established security measures and are becoming harder to track and contain. Organized crime is now focusing on data theft, as evidenced in the eBay scam where thousands of credit card details were compromised. This is where the current trends in cutting-edge biometrics could play an important role.
Traditional biometric technology such as fingerprinting has many loopholes. For instance, dummy fingers with copied fingerprints can bypass a system with ease. To counter this, a company has developed finger vein recognition technology. Here, a person is identified by the blood vessel pattern beneath their skin – which is unique to each individual. The method requires a person to scan their fingers using an infrared sensor and a charge-coupled device, which highlights the veins as dark lines and stores their unique pattern in a database. Duplication is impossible as it requires the vascular pattern of a living person. The technology is being considered for corporate banking customers, credit card authentication, automated teller machines, automobile security and employee attendance tracking.
Another biometric, facial recognition is being used by a bank for its mobile banking application to authenticate transactions. 3D face recognition, the latest development, utilizes sensors to identify distinctive characteristics of face shape, contours of the eye sockets, chin and nose. Even intelligence agencies and the US government are in the process of building the world's largest database of face-recognition data, to eventually identify every person in the country.
Apart from face recognition software, voice printing is gaining popularity with governments. Millions of voice prints are being stored to deal with kidnappings and other criminal activity. Institutions are using frequency estimation, hidden Markov models, pattern matching algorithms, neural networks and Gaussian mixture models to process and store voice prints. If a kidnapper demands a ransom through a phone call, his identity can be determined with his voice print.
Some biometric companies are going one step ahead by authenticating heartbeats of people. A company in Canada has developed a wearable wrist band that uses heartbeat authentication for making payments. It can be worn around the wrist and checks for a person's unique electrocardiograph, making false representation exceedingly hard.
Biometric technology eliminates the risks brought about by keystroke logging software and malware. It can provide the security that passwords and other traditional authentication data alone cannot hence creating the secure environment we envision for our future.
What are your thoughts on these trends in biometrics? Please share your thoughts in the section below.