Review: Biometrics Technologies Measure Up (Part 3/3)

November 21, 2005 feature

(Part 1, 2) Biometrics technologies have come a long way from a slow start in the early 80s. Now they can be found almost anywhere and soon, almost everywhere.

Pattern Recognition
Not commonly recognized among the biometric technologies but widely used and gaining in popularity is the technique of behavior recording. These systems are computer programs that monitor particular behaviors like typing and purchasing to identify users.

Credit card companies, for example, have records of your purchasing patterns. Any unusual purchases are flagged by a computer program and brought to the attention of a customer service representative who verifies the authenticity of the purchaser.

They way you type – frequency of keystrokes and their duration - has been proven to be a very effective way to identify unauthorized users on computer networks.

Internet sites you visit, programs and files you use and general work patterns can all be analyzed to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information.

The big advantages to this approach include low cost, high effectiveness and unobtrusive operation – most users are completely unaware of the software’s operation.

The sharp increase in identity theft and the threat of terrorism combined with the falling prices of all biometric technologies, it’s predicted that the biometrics industry will explode as demand increases sharply in the next 3 to 5 years.

Already many systems are in use and technology is improving to eliminate false positives that may have deterred buyers in the past.

New inventions tend to cause backlash, but biometrics technologies, especially the clandestine ones, have provoked storms of protest from privacy groups and users. This may slow, but not stop rapid adoption. All experts agree more need to be done to address ethical and privacy concerns.

Like the adoption of any new technology, there are many problems that still remain to be fully overcome, but the idea of an ID-less society is not far off. The sheer convenience, low cost and security are very attractive to businesses, governments and users alike.

Who knows? One day you may be able to go about your business never having to present any form of artificial ID. Biometrics systems promise to make huge changes in the way we do business and identify ourselves. They also promise to invade our already beleaguered privacy and create a new breed of sophisticated criminals adept at hacking our biometric identities.

Part 1, 2

Copyright 2005

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