Why Biometrics Is Not A Panacea: A Comedy Of Errors In Three Parts presented at KiwiCon 2008

by Peter Gutmann (University of Auckland ),

Tags: Security

Summary : Before 9/11, biometrics were mostly a curiosity, employed for additional security in a few special-case access control situations alongside other, more traditional mechanisms. The biometrics market was small, and unlikely to grow much due to the small size of the rather limited niche in which biometrics were appropriate.
Then came 9/11, and every biometrics vendor packed their fingerprint readers and face-recognition scanners into the nearest carpet-bag and headed for Washington. This talk provides some technical background about the effectiveness of the technology that you'll never find in any vendor sales literature, and documents its less-than-stellar track record in the field. The RFID technology that it's frequently paired with (originally intended mostly for inventory tracking) also has numerous problems, and in particular its use in passports greatly decreases their security compared to the original non-RFID forms. These technologies have their uses, but probably not in the way that they're being pushed at the moment.