Biometric Security Fallible, Report Says

PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 24 (UPI) — Biometric systems that recognize individuals based on fingerprints, palm prints, or voice or face recognition are “inherently fallible,” a U.S. report says.

A report by the National Research Council says no single identifying trait has been found that is stable and distinctive across all groups, and that to strengthen the science and improve system effectiveness, additional research is needed at virtually all levels of design and operation, a National Academy of Sciences release said Friday.


“For nearly 50 years, the promise of biometrics has outpaced the application of the technology,” study chairman Joseph N. Pato at Hewlett-Packard’s HP Laboratories in Palo Alto, Calif., said.

“While some biometric systems can be effective for specific tasks, they are not nearly as infallible as their depiction in popular culture might suggest. Bolstering the science is essential to gain a complete understanding of the strengths and limitations of these systems.”

Biometric systems are increasingly used to regulate access to facilities, information, and other rights or benefits, but questions remain about their effectiveness, the report said.

A person’s biometric characteristics may vary over the individual’s lifetime due to age, stress, disease or other factors, possibly leading to a high false-alarm rate.

And effectiveness depends as much on the competence of human operators as it does on the underlying technology and engineering, the report concluded.

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Categorized | Engineering, Other
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