Biometrics is ready

Published 7 February 2006

Lab tests of leading biometric products show technology is ready

The increasing demand for security and the growing accuracy and sophistication of biometric devices are two developments which have taken place more or less within the same time frame — with emphasis on “more or less.” GCN Lab has decided to see whether the emphasis should be more on “less” or more on “more,” and has gathered a variety of different products in what it says should be viewed as more of a survey of current technologies than a comparative review. The lab tested everything from enterprise software products that integrate an array of biometric readers, to PC add-ons which secure a single system. The lab found that the hardware problems which once plagued biometric devices have mostly been eliminated, at least in core technologies such as fingerprint scanning. The blending of optical chips and silicon ones — the latter more accurate but also more expensive and fragile — has helped make fingerprint readers one of the most popular methods of biometric authentication.

The lab also found that false positives, mistakes by a biometric system that allow an unauthorized user into a facility or network, have been largely eliminated. False negatives, however, are still a problem, if only a minimal one. Ultimately, the lab researchers were most impressed with how much enterprise software has improved in allowing users to discover and manage a wide variety of biometric devices. Answering our earlier question: The lab found the biometric devices now live up to their promise and will play an ever growing role in security solutions, as physical and logical access controls merge.

-read more in this John Breeden’s GCN report