Biometrics

Biometrics are measurable biological characteristics that are used for a wide range of identification purposes. In cybersecurity, biometrics refers to authentication techniques that rely on measurable physical characteristics. These characteristics are collected using specialized sensors and compared to existing records to authenticate a request.

Types of biometric identifiers

There are several types of biometric identifiers. The first category is physical biometrics, which include:

  • Face, the analysis of facial characteristics
  • Fingerprint, the analysis of an individual’s unique fingerprint
  • Hand geometry, the analysis of the shape of the hand and the length of the fingers
  • Palm veins, the analysis of the pattern of veins in the front and back of the hand and wrist
  • Retina, the analysis of the capillary vessels located at the back of the eye
  • Iris, the analysis of the colored ring that surrounds the eye’s pupil

The second category is behavioral biometrics, which include:

  • Signature, the analysis of the way an individual signs their name
  • Gait, the analysis of the way an individual walks
  • Voice, the analysis of an individual’s vocal intonation and inflection

How are biometrics used?

The most common use of biometrics today is in hardware security. Many smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices are embedded with biometric scanners that verify a user’s identity to unlock the device. One of the best examples of this is Apple’s Face ID technology.

Law enforcement agencies use biometric technology in the field of criminal forensics. Investigators can cross-reference a suspect or victim’s biometric sample with CJIS databases and other collected biometric data. A match can confirm a crime has been committed as well as the identities of the parties involved.

The healthcare industry uses biometric information to verify a patient’s identity, but providers can also use this data to enrich the patient’s health record. The rise of wearable computing and IoT devices has meant non-identifiable biometric data like heart rate, blood oxygen level, and activity levels are easier to collect. This data can help uncover underlying conditions and create a fuller picture of a patient’s health.

This article was updated by Kaiti Norton.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

Top Articles

List of Windows Operating System Versions & History [In Order]

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

What are the Five Generations of Computers? (1st to 5th)

Reviewed by Web Webster Each generation of computer has brought significant advances in speed and power to computing tasks. Learn about each of the...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

Launched in 1996, Hotmail was one of the first public webmail services that could be accessed from any web browser. At its peak in...

SHA-256

SHA-256 is an algorithm used for hash functions and is a vital component...

Document Management System

A document management system is an automated software solution businesses and organizations use...

Conti Ransomware

Conti ransomware first emerged in 2020. It uses a ransomware as a service...