• PrivacyUse of face recognition systems threatens civil liberties: EFF report

    Face recognition—fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice—is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report. Independent oversight, privacy protections are needed.

  • AuthenticationReal-time Captcha technique bolsters biometric authentication

    A new login authentication approach could improve the security of current biometric techniques that rely on video or images of users’ faces. Known as Real-Time Captcha, the technique uses a unique challenge that’s easy for humans — but difficult for attackers who may be using machine learning and image generation software to spoof legitimate users.

  • Biometric exit program DHS’s airport biometric exit program faces budgetary, legal, technical, and privacy questions

    DHS has installed experimental face-recognition system in nine U.S. airports. If DHS’s current plans are executed, every traveler flying overseas, American and foreign national alike, will soon be subject to a face recognition scan as part of this “biometric exit” program. A new report notes that neither Congress nor DHS has ever justified the need for the program. Congress never provided a rationale for it. Congress never provided a rationale for it while DHS has repeatedly questioned “the additional value biometric air exit would provide.” The biometric exit program also stands on shaky legal ground, and to make matters worse, the face scanning technology used by DHS may make frequent mistakes. “The privacy concerns implicated by biometric exit are at least as troubling as the system’s legal and technical problems,” the report notes.

  • Biosecurity“Cyberbiosecurity” and the protection of the life sciences

    Biology and biotechnology have entered a digital age, but security policies around such activities have not kept pace. New research outlines how the evolving nature of biotechnology should sound alarm bells for new ways to keep life sciences assets safe. This could be from accidental cyber-physical breaches, or more nefarious threats.

  • CybersecurityUsing smartphones — instead of body parts — for identification to deter cybercrime

    Not comfortable with Face ID and other biometrics? This cybersecurity advancement may be for you. Researchers have discovered how to identify smartphones by examining just one photo taken by the device. The advancement opens the possibility of using smartphones — instead of body parts — as a form of identification to deter cybercrime.

  • Airport securityBiometric solutions to bolster security at U.S. airports

    World events over the last decade—and even in the last year—have shown that airports are an attractive target to terrorists. At the same time, the number of international air travelers is increasing. More than 119 million international travelers arrived in fiscal year (FY) 2016, an almost six percent increase from FY 2015 and over a 35 percent increase since FY 2009. It is estimated that international arrivals will continue to grow at more than four percent annually. In this changing security landscape, finding effective and scalable solutions to increase security and efficiently process travelers is imperative. The need is critical and will only grow as many airports are already operating at or near capacity.

  • Identity authenticationSoftware verifies someone’s identity by their DNA in minutes

    In the science-fiction movie “Gattaca,” visitors only clear security if a blood test and readout of their genetic profile matches the sample on file. Now, cheap DNA sequencers and custom software could make real-time DNA-authentication a reality. Researchers have developed a method to quickly and accurately identify people and cell lines from their DNA. The technology could have multiple applications, from identifying victims in a mass disaster to analyzing crime scenes.

  • BiometricsA better way to identify gait differences

    Biometric-based person recognition methods have been extensively explored for various applications, such as access control, surveillance, and forensics. Gait is a practical trait for video-based surveillance and forensics because it can be captured at a distance on video. In fact, gait recognition has been already used in practical cases in criminal investigations. However, gait recognition is susceptible to intra-subject variations, such as view angle, clothing, walking speed, shoes, and carrying status. Such hindering factors have prompted many researchers to explore new approaches with regard to these variations.

  • CybersecurityThe challenge of authenticating real humans in a digital world

    By Jungwoo Ryoo

    There are three main ways of proving an identity. One involves something you know – like a password or your mother’s maiden name. A second method of authentication is with something you have – such as a key to your home’s front door or a smart card to swipe at work. A third way is by digitally authenticating the individual human being – who you are – with some aspect of your biology. This increasing dependence on digital authentication may actually result in less security. While cameras, sensors and other devices can make authentication easier for people to accomplish, they carry their own weaknesses. It may be more convenient, and even more secure, than a magnetic strip on a plastic card in your wallet. But the potential dangers will require much higher security for private information, particularly biometric data. A real identity still comes down to flesh and blood.

  • BiometricsDNA techniques could transform facial recognition technology

    By Jean-Christophe Nebel

    Camera-based visual surveillance systems were supposed to deliver a safer and more secure society. But despite decades of development, they are generally not able to handle real-life situations. During the 2011 London riots, for example, facial recognition software contributed to just one arrest out of the 4,962 that took place. The failure of this technology means visual surveillance still relies mainly on people sitting in dark rooms watching hours of camera footage, which is totally inadequate to protect people in a city. But recent research suggests video analysis software could be dramatically improved thanks to software advances made in a completely different field: DNA sequence analysis. By treating video as a scene that evolves in the same way DNA does, these software tools and techniques could transform automated visual surveillance.

  • ForensicsScientific basis of fingerprints too weak for legal certainty

    It may surprise many, especially those susceptible to the CSI effect, but fingerprint evidence is not conclusive beyond a reasonable doubt. A new American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) working group report on the quality of latent fingerprint analysis says that courtroom testimony and reports stating or even implying that fingerprints collected from a crime scene belong to a single person are indefensible and lack scientific foundation.

  • Cybersecurity“Cardiac password” project uses the wave of the heart motion for authentication

    One of the unique features for the upcoming iPhone X is facial recognition security, where users can simply unlock their phones by holding it up to their face and allowing the phone’s security measures to identify the correct user. However, it seems just as soon as new means of authentication are developed and put into use, hackers find a way around them, from hacking passwords to faking fingerprints to fool biometric security systems. But there may be one authentication method that cannot be hacked: Cardiac password.

  • ForensicsVoice forensics to help Coast Guard nab hoax callers

    The U.S. Coast Guard receives more than 200 false distress calls a year over its Very High Frequency (VHF) radio channel 16—the mariner’s “911”—and the number is growing. These false calls are not simply a nuisance: Every distress call the Coast Guard receives compels the federal agency to launch an expensive search-and-rescue effort. In December 2014, DHS S&T connected the Coast Guard with Dr. Rita Singh of Carnegie Mellon University to see whether a voice forensic technology could be developed which would glean information from the caller’s audio signal — because this was the only evidence the Coast Guard had in cases of false distress calls.

  • BiometricsForget login, fingerprint, or retinal scan: Your heart is the new identifier.

    Forget fingerprint computer identification or retinal scanning. Researchers have developed a computer security system using the dimensions of your heart as your identifier. The system uses low-level Doppler radar to measure your heart, and then continually monitors your heart to make sure no one else has stepped in to run your computer. This new non-contact, remote biometric tool could be the next advance in computer security.

  • BiometricsHow does your cellphone know whether your finger is real or a fake?

    Do you know how safe it is to use your finger as a security login? And have you wondered how your cell phone knows if your finger is real or a fake? Researchers are working to answer these questions and solve the biggest problems facing fingerprint recognition systems today: how secure they are and how to determine whether the finger being used is actually a human finger.