age are readily available today) along with processing capacity to support services such as user-specific information storage, authentication, and cryptographic certificate management. Some even have biometric access control features.

Biometric Authentication Technologies. Various systems that measure the physical features of an individual (e.g., fingerprints, voiceprints, retinal or iris patterns of the eye, hand geometry patterns, or facial features) or the features of repetitive actions (e.g., signature dynamics) have been studied as the basis of identification systems.4 Such biometric systems have the potential advantage of convenience and difficulty in forging an access pattern, since the basis of identification is always physically with the subject and is typically a complex pattern. However, biometric systems must be evaluated in terms of their reliability (false-positive and false-negative identification rates), the time and user frustration involved in the repeated authentication attempts that may be needed, and the difficulty of fooling the system with simulated patterns. The most extensive objective measurements of the reliability of biometric methods have been done by Sandia National Laboratories.5 These studies evaluated a number of commercial systems using voiceprint analysis, signature dynamics, retinal patterns, iris patterns, fingerprint analysis, and hand geometry. The Sandia data indicate that the most effective technologies currently available for identification verification (i.e., verifying the claimed identity of an individual who has presented a magnetic stripe card, smart card, or PIN) are systems based on retinal or hand geometry patterns. These systems have one-try false-rejection and false-acceptance rates of less than 1 percent. User pattern collection and verification processing take about 5 to 7 seconds. Biometric systems have already progressed to the point at which they are being put into operation to help verify identities in applications such as personal and electronic banking, human and social services delivery, driver's license verification, industrial security, immigration control, and other settings where convenient, nonforgeable identification is necessary.6


See, for example, Daugman, J.G. 1993. "High Confidence Visual Recognition of Persons by a Test of Statistical Independence," IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence 15(11):1148-1161.


Holmes, J.P., L.J. Wright, and R.L. Maxwell. 1991. "A Performance Evaluation of Biometric Identification Devices," Sandia Report SAND91-0276. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N. Mex., June. See also Bouchier, F., J.S. Ahrens, and G. Wells. 1996. "Laboratory Evaluation of the IriScan Prototype Biometric Identifier," Sandia Report SAND961033. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N. Mex., April.


See, for example, Biometrics in Human Services User Group Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1, July 1996.

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