Oct 22 2006

Passwords Poor? Biometrics Better?

There has been debates between passwords and biometrics for which is more secure, more reliable and more useful. Well it all depends on what your purpose is for needing the security. For example, Lets say you own a small construction company that only works on building barns in Nebraska, your security risk is not that high and a password will do fine. However, what if you were head of IT for CTU (fictional Counter-Terrorist Unit on the TV show 24) and the lives of millions of people depend on the information that is stored on the servers you control. How do you think a password would handle in a situation like that.

Many people have trouble remembering their passwords so they write them down and make the concept of a password useless. That is why passwords do not cut it for security and you need to step it up to biometrics. Biometrics from Greek: bios = “life” and metron = “measure” is used to measure and analyze human physical and behavioral characteristics for authentication purposes. Here is a list of biometric examples.


The figure above compares several biometrics with each other against seven categories:
* Universality describes how commonly a biometric is found in each individual.
* Uniqueness is how well the biometric separates one individual from another.
* Permanence measures how well a biometric resists aging.
* Collectability explains how easy it is to acquire a biometric for measurement.
* Performance indicates the accuracy, speed, and robustness of the system capturing the biometric.
* Acceptability indicates the degree of approval of a technology by the public in everyday life.
* Circumvention is how easy it is to fool the authentication system.
Yun ranks each biometric based on the categories as being either low, medium, or high. A low ranking indicates poor performance in the evaluation criterion whereas a high ranking indicates a very good performance.


authentication, biometrics, face, facial recognition, fingerprint, iris, passwords, retina, security, signature, voice

About the author

Timothy Haroutunian

Timothy Haroutunian is a ServiceNow Cloud Implementation Specialist at Acorio. ServiceNow is an IT Management solution that allows for a complete view of your IT and physical environment.

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