What is Biometric Security and How Does it Work

Biometric security refers to the use of individual physical or behavioral characteristics to create security measures. The use of personal traits for security purposes has become one of the best ways to provide security in many areas.
Biometrics is not easy to mess with that and leaves very little margin for error. Unlike the use of passwords, pass codes or keys, biometrics provides a higher level of security. With this particular security system, identification is based on specific individual traits. Biometric security nowadays is being used in all sorts of places; from doors to electronic devices. There has been a growing need to provide more enhanced security recently. Using just passwords to protect devices and accounts is not enough anymore.

One of the most compelling reasons to use biometrics for security is the convenience they provide. The level of security provided is higher. With an iris scanner on your office door, you wouldn’t have to worry about someone using a master key. There is more certainty when using biometric security. A fingerprint scanner on your smart phone is not the same as having a password. Biometrics provides more security no doubt. There are also lower chances of the security being interfered with. This is something that a lot of people can appreciate.

How Biometric security works

The way biometric security works is not that complicated really. When setting up biometric security, three basic stages are commonly taken.

The first one is the enrolment of information. The system has to have the right information if it is to serve its purpose. This is why information has to be input into the system. This is the stage where the system captures the specific trait to be used. For this stage to be carried out, a sensor is required. This is what is used to capture the trait being provided. Once this is done, the next stage is storing the information.

The trait that has been registered has to be stored into the system this way it would be easier to access when need be. The storage of this information involves the translation of personal traits into code. This code is stored as data on the system. The system has to have a computer for this. This is where the information is stored.

The last stage in this process involves comparison. When the information has been enrolled and stored, then it will be used for comparison when you try to use the system. The trait you present to the system will be compared with the one already in storage. If the system recognizes the trait, then it allows access and if it doesn’t, it denies access. There is software that is required for this. With this software, the system is able to translate traits into data or graph which is then used for comparisons.

Different types of biometric systems

One thing to note about using biometric devices for security is that there are many different options. There are various parameters that can be used to establish biometric security measures. There are behavioral and physical biometrics that are used. Behavioral biometrics are based on the behavioral characteristics of an individual while the physical biometrics are based on physical traits. Both behavioral and physical can change over time and this may require updating the system. For instance, the hand pattern may change for one reason or another making it imperative to update a hand geometry scanner. In case of a voice recognition system, one may have a sore throat making it hard to recognize the voice pattern.


Fingerprints are the most commonly used trait when it comes to these devices. This involves the use of an individual fingerprints to create an access point. Fingerprints are unique to individuals. By using those, access is allowed if the system can analyze and recognize specific fingerprints. Fingerprint scanners have proven more effective when looking at biometric security. Fingerprint scanners are used in buildings that require a certain level of security. They are also used on devices like tablets and smart phones. This means that one cannot gain access without a specific fingerprint.


Another mode of biometric identification is through signature. Not a lot of people use this particular mode. However, it provides a good level of security. This is because the biometric system does not analyze the signature alone. There are other components that the system looks at. For one, it analyzes how an individual writes. There are so many things that affect how people write. There is the pressure, the spacing of words and letters, the shape of the letters, the rhythm when writing; all these are analyzed by the system. This means that even if a signature can be forged, it is hard to fool a biometric system.


Another one is the iris scanner. This works by using near-infrared light to take a picture of the iris. This picture is in high contrast and very clear. The system is able to locate the iris and decipher its pattern. This is then translated into code. The iris provides over 200 points of reference making it very hard to mistake one for another. Irises also do not change over time.  An iris scanner can also be used with contact lenses or eyeglasses. Iris scanners have become a favorite for entities that require high levels of security.


Voice recognition is also another type of biometric security. This is done by registering an individual’s voice pattern into a voice print system. The vocal cavities make individual voices different. By saying certain words that have been entered into the system, a certain voice is able to gain access. There are other traits that can be used for biometric security. Hand patterns, the face, retina, veins, breath can all be used. The type of biometric system used will depend on the level of security required. There are some that provide high levels of security while others provide just adequate. It is important to note that biometric security devices while good are not tamper proof. For instance fingerprints can be lifted from the originals, voices can be recorded to fool a voice recognition system and retinas can be clouded. It is possible to use more than one biometric trait for one system. For instance having a fingerprint scanner and voice recognition to allow access may provide enhanced security.