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What Are the Uses of Biometrics in Computer Security?

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  • Written By: Mal Baxter
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2016
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In the futuristic but real world of digitized human activity, computers help expedite private transactions and ought to provide more secure environments. Biometrics in computer security allow computers to see people more accurately to facilitate appropriate responses. By electronically analyzing unique, individual characteristics such as voice, or vein patterns in the eye, computers accurately measure these properties to confirm identities before accessing valuable information or operations. Electronic measurement technologies can accommodate a wide variety of biological traits, such as vocal patterns, hand geometry, and, of course, fingerprints. Relying on biometrics can offset security risks from lost keys, identity cards, and magnetic stripe cards.

Essentially, the use of biometrics in computer security combines human touch with measurement technology. In other words, it addresses the challenge of translating human activity into measurable computing systems. Biometrics can enhance security networks and property automation systems. Techniques can include analysis of the human body, such as bone structure and traits of the face, iris and retina analysis, fingerprints, and voice.

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The key purposes of biometrics in computer security are to enhance user operations and organizational security. Computers that skillfully assess identities and activities of people can be more proficient at signaling appropriate responses, such as permitting access or unlocking doors. Biometrics can ensure identities for private transactions and expedite transactions by removing steps in authorization processes while simultaneously improving security accuracy with more automated protective layers. For example, they unlock doors with the touch of a fingerprint, or validate numerical passwords with voice matching.

On the other hand, certain uses of biometrics in computer security can raise some concerns about privacy. For example, a number of passive systems can operate unseen and unknown to the public at large. Some of these operate using facial recognition technology, which may be deployed to watch traffic, large crowds, or events for possible criminal facial matches.

Other biometrics work in consumer solutions, such as fingerprint readers that can secure anything from laptops to safes. Additional applications of biometrics in computer security include network security, as with organizational local area networks (LAN). These might require thumb or fingerprint scans to log onto a network. Employing such devices ensures that networks are only accessed by authorized personnel in standard operations.

Along with providing access to doors, gates, and properties, biometrics in computer security can assist in activating alarms. Some companies rely on them to replace time clocks with more accurate and harder-to-fool technology. Technology can also provide a more hygienic interface; a computer that performs vocal recognition generally saves users the necessity of touching germ-ridden public keypads. As technology evolves to accommodate improvements in automation and security, biometrics may not only get smarter, but become more seamlessly integrated into human and computer interactions.

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