Biometrics technology can take on many forms, but, in general, it is defined as the automated identification of a person based on physiological or behavioral characteristics. The topic has gained considerable attention lately, because it can be a tool for airport surveillance or national security.To learn the basics of biometrics, try the overview given on a Michigan State University Web site (1). Besides summarizing the characteristics of biometric systems, it explains four different identification methods and how they can be used together. A collection of fifteen papers is presented on this site (2). Each one looks at a particular issue in biometrics and describes it in detail. These papers can be especially useful for anyone designing or working with identity verification systems. The home page of a University of Cambridge professor (3) has many resources for iris recognition. There are many distinguishing characteristics of the iris, and the material ranges from a general introduction to advanced analysis techniques. An article published by the International Biometric Group (4) considers the effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the biometrics industry. The potential applications of biometrics technology and the obstacles to deploying these security measures (such as privacy) are discussed. Researchers at Hewlett-Packard published this technical report about user authentication on distributed computing platforms (5). It describes a trusted biometric system that incorporates smart cards and biometric readers to validate the user's identity. A project in Connecticut uses biometric technology to prevent fraud (6). By scanning the fingers of welfare recipients, no one can attempt to collect multiple welfare checks using different names. An article in the September 2002 issue of IEEE Spectrum (7) discusses advancements in biometrics within the last year. It outlines the benefits of adding biometric information to state driver's licenses, and considers what else needs to be done to increase the nation's security. Lastly, a July 2002 article in Scientific American (8) explains how biometrics can be used to prevent identity theft. This is one of the top consumer complaints and has been increasing dramatically in recent years. An interesting development is a tamperproof ID, which can not be falsified.


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