Biometric Technologies for Access Control

Though access control is ubiquitous, it is ever changing. In recent years, biometrics has become an increasingly hot topic in the world of access control. Biometrics is essentially an access control system that uses personally identifying elements to identify a user. It eliminates the possibility of a security breach through a lost or stolen credential, because the credential is the human being him or herself.

Popular forms of biometric access control rely on fingerprinting, eye scans, and face recognition. In each of these forms of access control, a user interacts with an access control point (typically a scanner) and is either granted access or denied. Though biometric scanning has been used in high-security areas such as government buildings or labs for a long time, in today’s world, the need for increased security measures in seemingly less high-risk areas is becoming important. Biometrics have been used in a variety of lower-risk level situations such as on mobile devices and at theme parks as a means of locking up one’s belongings.

Biometrics has the ability to change the way security in our world works. For example as those who have traveled in the past decade are aware, the security checkpoint one goes through at an airport involves two processes. The first process is identity verification. A person must present his or her photo ID in order to retrieve his or her plane ticket, in order to check luggage, and in order to gain access to the security scanner lines. Once one’s identity has been verified, he or she gains access to the scanner portion of the security process. At this point, his or her body is scanned for weapons or explosives, and his or her carry-on items are inspected to ensure that they do not contain any restricted items.

Because of the long lines that the two-fold airport security process creates, frequent travelers are beginning to have the opportunity to go through a rigorous background check process in order to bypass the lines and gain access to his or her gate sooner at the airport. This is important to high-powered business men and women as often they travel for work and have small windows of time between work appointments and flights. Jet setters do not have three to four hours to dedicate to sitting at the airport on a work day. As a result, special cards are being granted to those who can prove that they have a clean background, are not a risk to the flight community, and who have needs to travel efficiently.

Naturally, this process comes with a series of questions about the safety of this practice. What if one were to impersonate a person who is using this pass? This is where biometrics comes in. The use of biometrics can literally end any suspicion that a user is falsely using another person’s credentials to gain access to the lower security line at the airport. Eye scans and fingerprints are indelibly tied to the person that they identify. Without stealing one’s eyeballs, you cannot fool an eye scanner.

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