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About Biometrics

Wherever there is a need to identify a human being there is a potential application for biometrics. This includes entry control to buildings and secure areas including countries, as well as logical access control to resources such as bank accounts and entitlement services. Traditional methods to secure such applications include magnetic and smart cards, tokens as well as passwords and PINs. However, when it comes to identity assurance, biometric technologies have an unsurpassed advantage: they are intrinsically linked to the person.

 As the number and scale of deployments of biometric recognition systems increase, biometrics is moving from an era where vendor-specific products, techniques and solutions were acceptable, into an era where interoperability is important and conformance to standards is required by most procurers of biometric products.

Recently published BS ISO/IEC 19794 standards cover data structures to digitally record finger, face and iris images and fingerprint features, for use in identity management systems. Some of the standards are already used for the recording of biometric data on UK ePassports and they will find further application once UK ID cards are deployed.

The standards are essential to the following areas of activity:

  • identity product/service vendors
  • identity document issuing authorities
  • Home Office planners (for police and prison service activities)
  • legislators
  • systems integrators
  • auditors.

Reinforce Security and Prevent Fraud

These standards are essential for those concerned with government contracts and procurement as well as with the enhancement of IT security through biometric physical and/or logical access control. They will be of interest to any organization wishing to reinforce security and prevent fraud by implementing strong identity and access management.

Specified by Governments

 A number of governments (including the UK, other European countries and Israel) have specified that the use of biometrics by government departments shall conform to these international standards covering biometric data block formats, and have recommended that private organizations avoid vendor-specific solutions for the storage of such data.

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