The automated identification or verification of individuals based on their unique physiological or behavioural characteristics such as fingerprints, gait, iris etc. is referred to as biometric authentication. The concept of fingerprint biometrics has been in existence for thousands of years. Potters from East Asia used to place their fingerprints on clay as it cured. Fingerprints were also used in the 19th century by criminologists for identification of habitual criminals. However, biometrics first appeared in the 1970s as an automated technology.
Commercial applications started using biometrics for controlling physical access to buildings. With the advancements in technology, this trend continues to grow. The increasing need to reduce instances of fraud as well as to provide secured access to physical and logical assets have made fingerprint biometrics a very popular and widely used technology.
The emergence of biometric technologies
Biometrics is a very strong authentication mechanism as it based on something that you are as opposed to something you know or something you have. Passwords and tokens are highly vulnerable to being lost or stolen. A weak or compromised password is the primary reason for the rising cases of security and data breaches. Passwords are the weakest link in an organization’s security system and even strong passwords cannot resist sophisticated hacker attacks. Further, the costs of maintaining password and token based systems are very high and inefficient. Resetting lost or forgotten passwords takes up IT support time and reduces employee productivity.
Photo: Unique patterns of ridges and valleys in a fingerprint
Fingerprint recognition looks for the unique patterns of ridges and valleys that are present in an individual’s fingerprint. These patterns are unique to every individual and thus help to identify individuals from an entire population. Fingerprints are inherent to individuals and can neither be lost nor stolen which makes it highly accurate and reliable. Moreover, the availability of low-cost fingerprint readers coupled with easy integration capabilities has led to the wide spread deployment of fingerprint biometrics in a variety of organizations.
Verification and identification are the two ways in which an individual’s identity can be determined using biometric technology. Verification confirms that a person is indeed who they claim to be and performs a one-to-one comparison of the individual’s fingerprint sample with a stored reference template. Identification, on the other hand, performs a one-to-many comparison to confirm an individual’s identity. The identification process compares the individual’s fingerprint sample against all the reference templates stored on file. An individual is positively identified if the individual’s fingerprint image matches any of the stored templates.Learn More
Why should organizations choose biometric fingerprinting technology?
An organization can enjoy limitless benefits by correctly deploying biometric technology. Today’s economy is an evolving one and technological advancements have changed the way in which organizations function and conduct businesses. Modern organizations need to be adaptive, flexible and agile to survive in the competitive business environment. Fingerprint technology can benefit organizations in a variety of sectors such as health care, government, retail enterprises, technology organizations, manufacturing industry, libraries, universities etc.
Employee identification and workforce management becomes faster, accurate and more efficient with fingerprint technology. Unlike magnetic strip cards or passwords, individuals always carry their fingerprints with them and they cannot be lost or forgotten. Tracking attendance of employees in manufacturing organizations prevents employee time theft and reduces fraudulent behavior. A biometric system enables automated calculation of employee hours thus reducing paper wastage and time spent in manual reconciliation of attendance data. Fingerprint biometrics can provide both physical access to company buildings and logical access to internal resources such as enterprise computers and systems.
Governments and organizations all around the world are choosing biometric technology to combat identity fraud and security breaches, secure confidential data, reduce costs and to improve overall user experience. Biometrics is one of the rapidly growing fields in the information technology sector with fingerprint recognition expected to remain the most dominant form of biometric technology. The global biometrics market is growing at an exponential rate and is forecasted to reach $23.54 billion by 2020.