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Biometric authentication requires the exchange of credentials to access a secure site. Biometrics consist of an iris, voice or fingerprint scan, for example, which can be used to identify the user uniquely. Biometric authentication can also ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data.
Biometric authentication uses features of a person’s biological make up such as:
Awareness: Due to genetics, a human being has certain eye and ear structures that enable him to uniquely identify himself. Due to our constitution, human beings carry a certain vein pattern, breath and/or fingerprint, that is unique to a person. This makes it possible to reliably recognize humans, given a sample of biological material, e.g. of their fingertip.
Uniqueness: A human being is unique. Even his features vary slightly. There is hardly anyone whose features exactly resemble those of someone else.
Non-forgeability: The unique physical characteristics of the human body are quite difficult to manipulate. Forgeries are thus more difficult than for objects.
Physical Deception: Humans can never lie convincingly. False identifications are thus possible with a much lower probability than for objects.
Integrity: A person’s identity is a permanent feature of his body. A person is generally not able to change his or her identity – for example, a sick person cannot regain his old good health or a criminal can no longer claim innocence. In many cases, people are actually able to change their identification.
Reliability: An individual can generally be relied on because he or she has a known biological structure. Even highly unsound individuals can be handled with confidence because of a reliable feature that cannot be manipulated by others.
Flexibility: A person’s body is flexible and adaptable to new circumstances. This has a positive effect on a person’s reliability and integrity.
Biometric authentication can therefore be used to verify users for a variety of purposes.
The variety of biometric features is very broad. This makes it possible to authenticate a user with a large number of features. Various biometric features can be combined to one and the same person. Such a combination of features can be read out either as a single identification or as a series of different identifications.
Identifications that are not based on a person’s biological make up are called nonbiometrics. Examples include:
Numerical codes: The use of a code in biometric identification is often used to make a cryptographic advantage of the biometric function. This means that a biometric feature can be used to identify a user and this, for example, is coupled with a secret key so that the user cannot be identified with it. The verification of the correct combination of biometric feature and secret key ensures that a correct identity can be identified. This does not offer the user any further protection from manipulation.
Username: Users can be identified based on their username and/or password. The biometric feature does not have to be secret. The downside of this approach is that the use of a username implies that the identification is only as reliable as the user’s memory and that there is a risk that he will not update his username if it is incorrect.
Password: Password biometrics allow users to be identified through the correct selection of a number of numbers and letters. The selection process is repeated in order to avoid the use of the same password for different users. Biometric feature are typically entered or recognized using the keyboard. This enables the user to avoid entering their password. However, this biometric approach can be combined with the biometric option “