Thursday, March 02, 2006

UB Biometrics Researchers Enhance Fingerprint Technology

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Forgot your password? No problem. Biometrics researchers at the University at Buffalo have made important advances that bring closer the day when we can access devices and Web sites with nothing more than the touch of a fingertip."This research paves the way toward efficient methods of preventing unauthorized access to handheld devices, such as cell phones, wireless handheld devices and electronic audio players, as well as to secure Web sites," explained Venu Govindaraju, Ph.D., principal investigator, UB professor of computer science and engineering, and director of the university's Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors (CUBS). "It also will help make fingerprint matching for forensic applications more effective."Fingerprint access potentially can eliminate the need for consumers to remember all those annoying passwords, he added.The UB research addresses a key problem that has emerged in the quest for fingerprint access to electronic devices and Web sites: quantifying how much security is possible with fingerprinting, given that most commercial sensors tend to capture only partial fingerprints."This problem needs to be overcome before it will be possible to routinely replace passwords with fingerprints," Govindaraju said.The UB research specifies the physical dimensions of the keypad sensor in order to achieve specified levels of security, an issue that is of growing importance as devices become ever smaller.Govindaraju explained that any company considering using fingerprint matching for access will want to be able to quantify what level of security is possible."With passwords, this is an easy task," he said, "obviously a six-letter password will be much more difficult to break than a three-letter password because there are so many more possible combinations."Similarly, Govindaraju and his colleagues decided to try to quantify how big a fingerprint image has to be in order to achieve an acceptable level of security."For the first time, we have determined the minimum surface area required for fingerprint scanning in order to achieve a level of security that is roughly comparable to the security achieved with a six-letter password," he explained.Called the Automated Partial Fingerprint Identification system, the algorithm developed by the UB scientists enables computer systems of, say, banks or online retailers, to determine whether or not to grant access, by securely matching two fingerprint images (the stored one and the "new" one) even when only part of the print is captured....
http://www.linuxelectrons.com/article.php/20060301003629550

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