Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » Did You Know » Computer_Science »

How Fingerprint Scanners Work

Biometrics consists of automated methods of recognizing a person based on unique physical characteristic. Each type of biometric system, while different in application, contains at least one similarity: the biometric must be based upon a distinguishable human attribute such as a person's fingerprint, iris, voice pattern or even facial pattern.

Today fingerprint devices are by far the most popular form of biometric security used, with a variety of systems on the market intended for general and mass market usage. Long gone are the huge bulky fingerprint scanners; now a fingerprint scanning device can be small enough to be incorporated into a laptop for security.

A fingerprint is made up of a pattern of ridges and furrows as well as characteristics that occur at Minutiae points (ridge bifurcation or a ridge ending). [See Figure 1]

Fingerprint scanning essentially provides an identification of a person based on the acquisition and recognition of those unique patterns and ridges in a fingerprint.

The actual fingerprint identification process will change slightly between products and systems. The basis of identification, however, is nearly the same. Standard systems are comprised of a sensor for scanning a fingerprint and a processor which stores the fingerprint database and software which compares and matches the fingerprint to the predefined database. Within the database, a fingerprint is usually matched to a reference number, or PIN number which is then matched to a person's name or account. In instances of security the match is generally used to allow or disallow access, but today this can also be used for something as simple as a time clock or payroll access.

In large government organizations and corporations, biometrics plays a huge role in employee identification and security. Additionally some data centers have jumped on the bandwagon and have implemented biometric scanners to enhances remote access and management by adding another layer of network security for system administrators. Unfortunately the cost of implementing fingerprint and other biometric security scanning in data centers is still quite expensive, and many centers still rely on ID badges while waiting until biometric technology becomes a little more pocket-book friendly.

Today companies have realized that fingerprint scanning is an effective means of security. While the cost of implementing biometric scanners in larger organizations and data centers is still quite costly, we did find several fingerprint scanning devices which would fit into the budget of many small offices and home users. These home and small office products are designed to protect your hard drive, notebook or even to remove the need for users to remember multiple passwords.


Micro Solutions LockBox
This biometric fingerprint provides security access to the hard drive. A built-in sensor scans finger prints of authorized users (up to 8) to unlock the drive for use. Use as a single hard drive, or partition it into a maximum of 7 logical private drives. Users can be assigned access to ALL or only SELECT drive partitions.

IBM's T42 Notebook
Select T42 models combine the IBM Integrated Fingerprint Reader and the IBM Embedded Security Subsystem. The Integrated Fingerprint Reader is built conveniently into the palm rest area of your notebook, making your passwords available at your finger tip. Having to remember and enter passwords is eliminated with a swipe of your finger, and security software is preloaded for an integrated solution out of the box.

Microsoft Fingerprint Reader
Microsoft.s Fingerprint Reader is designed to remove the hassles of remembering passwords. Instead of typing in a username and password on Web sites and Windows logon screens, you scan your fingerprint and software handles the translation and allows access.

 

Recommended Reading:
"When looking at strong authentication, you want two out of three factors — something you have, something you are and something you know. While, eyes, hands and skin are commonly used as biometric identifiers, more dynamic methodologies also are being introduced."
How Biometrics Security Works

Key Terms To Understanding Biometrics:

Related Articles on Webopedia:




Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.





TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
QUICK REFERENCE
29 Free Android Apps for Cash-Strapped Students

From wacky alarm clocks to lecture hall tools and after class entertainment, these Android apps are a good fit for a student's life and budget. Read More »

Network Fundamentals Study Guide

A network is a group of two or more computer systems or devices, linked together to share resources, exchange files and electronic communications.... Read More »

Computer Architecture Study Guide

This Webopedia  study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »

DID YOU KNOW?
Interesting Times: Transformation in the IT Channel

Business transformation will remain the buzzword of the moment as channel firms continue to assess the direction of their companies in the age of... Read More »

11 Tips to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal

It's not just your lawnmower and household tools that your neighbor won't return. Our top picks include everything from updating device firmware... Read More »

What is a Virtual Private network (VPN)?

Companies and organizations will use a VPN to communicate confidentially over a public network and to send voice, video or data. Read More »