Watch your (digital) step!

Maybe you cover your PIN number when you enter it into an ATM. Perhaps you change and strengthen your computer passwords often. You may even refrain from posting personal information on your favorite social networking site. But in today’s wired world, no matter what precautions we take, everyone leaves digital footprints behind.

Never forget a face

In early 2008, the media picked up on research results coming from Glasgow University that had huge implications for controlling access in all sorts of corporate, government-controlled and even public settings. Professor of Psychology Mike Burton and his colleagues reported that they had developed a system that modeled human familiarity based on variance in a series of an individual’s photographs, and that in certain samples their results approached 100 percent accuracy in automated face recognition. Would apparent advances in this form of biometric technology have the potential to replace other biometric security methods such as voice verification, fingerprinting and retinal recognition?

Hands-on access

A recent survey of passengers on Scandinavian Airlines, SAS, showed that fingerprint identification has become widely accepted. Over 70% of Swedish respondents who participated in a trial to validate their luggage check-in with their fingerprints were positive and thought that the system should be introduced full-scale to allow ticket-free travel and remote check-in. The respondents felt that convenience was the main advantage. In response, SAS has expanded the trial and is now testing the fingerprinting system on several key domestic routes in Sweden, to ensure that the checked-in passenger is the same person who boards the plane.

Prison Pulls Plug on Fingerprint Lock

Biometric systems are entering the mainstream of security and access control as the technology improves and system costs come down. All security applications are challenging, and one of the toughest environments is correctional facilities where you can find a large population of people who have time on their hands and mischief on their minds. Some, perhaps, with experience defeating security systems.