When referring to computers and security, biometrics is the identification of a person by the measurement of their biological features. For example, a user identifying themselves to a computer or building by their fingerprint or voice is considered a biometrics identification. When compared to a password, this type of system is much more difficult to fake since it is unique to the person. Other common methods of a biometrics scan are a person's face, hand, iris, and retina.
Types of biometric devices
Below is a listing of all known biometric devices that may be used to input biometric data into a computer.
- Face scanner - Biometric face scanners identify a person by taking measurements of a person's face. For example, the distance between the person's chin, eyes (interpupillary distance), nose, and mouth. These types of scanners can be very secure assuming they are smart enough to distinguish between a picture of a person and a real person. See our facial recognition page for further information on this term.
- Hand scanner - Like your fingerprint, the palm of your hand is also unique to you. A biometric hand scanner will identify the person by the palm of their hand.
- Finger scanner - Like the picture shown on this page, a biometric finger scanner identifies the person by their fingerprint. These can be a secure method of identifying a person. However, cheap and less sophisticated fingerprint scanners can be duped a number of ways. For example, in the show Myth Busters they were able to fake a fingerprint using a Gummy Bear candy treat.
- Retina or iris scanner - A biometric retina or iris scanner identifies a person by scanning the iris or retina of their eyes. These scanners are more secure biometric authentication schemes when compared to the other devices because there is no known way to duplicate the retina or iris.
- Voice scanner - Finally, a voice analysis scanner will mathematically break down a person's voice to identify them. These scanners can help improve security but with some less sophisticated scanners can be bypassed using a tape recording.