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ITGS Extended Essay

Technology is increasing day by day. Biometrics is becoming famous, and there are increasing users. Though it has its advantages and disadvantages and several ethical and social issues, it need to deal with. The scope of the research includes all aspects of biometrics. An overview of what biometrics is and it will be a method of authentication in the future. It focuses on the impact of the issue related to biometrics. The research section includes primary data and secondary data. In the primary data, the interviews were taken in a company and school. In Flamingo Pharma and R.B.K International Academy, biometric devices are used for attendance. For further investigation, secondary data was collected from books and the Internet and were compiled.

In secondary data, the pros and cons have discussed the laws and the religious objections are discussed. The laws of every company are related to it are looked into, and both data are analyzed. In conclusion, the research is summarized and discussed whether biometrics has gained universal acceptance or no. Introduction of biometrics What is biometrics? Biometrics is used to identify individuals based on the fingerprint, retina, face etc. Biometric characteristics can be divided into two groups: –

  • Physiological- i.e. fingerprint, DNA, iris recognition etc.
  • Behavioral- i.e. behaviour of a person like the voice, typing rhythm.

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These devices are used in offices, crime branches, schools etc., at many places, biometric devices are used as a way of authentication taking daily attendance. They are also used in crime branch as it helps in recognition, and it is hard to mimic it. Many of these devices, like the retina scanner, are expensive, but at the same time, they are accurate. Many of these devices are uncomfortable for the users. The retina/iris scanner becomes a problem for some users, as it requires looking directly into infrared light. The voice and signature recognition is not so reliable and accurate. They are considered to be less secure. The hand, face and fingerprint are user-friendly and are accurate enough. These devices are majorly used in computers and laptops for authentication to replace them with passwords.

Some users are reluctant to have their fingerprints saved in the database. In addition, many people have religious problems using it. I’m researching biometrics to find out whether it will gain universal acceptance in the future. The purpose of this project is to find out how many people use them and whether they are comfortable with these devices, considering there are religious issues and laws, particularly laws that do not practice such activities. In addition, it will help me know how many people are open to the idea of this device and the technology, which can so advance. Some biometrics devices: – Fingerprint Scanner In this device, the process locally scans a person’s fingerprints and then compares those images with previously stored templates. The approach takes advantage of the structural characteristics of the human fingerprint to produce a reputed 99 percent accuracy rating.

Retinal Scanner. Retinal technology utilizes the small blood vessels at the back of the eye to identify and compare a local image with previously stored information. In the case of this technology, identification accuracy is about the 99th percentile. Retina scans. Facial Recognition. This system applies overall cranial structure and eye, nose and mouth position to confirm identification by comparing those characteristics with previously-stored metric information. The accuracy of this process is less accurate than fingerprint or retinal scanning.

Voice Recognition. Voice printing utilizes pattern recording of a series of spoken commands, then subsequently compares the local audio result against characteristics of previously recorded information. Accuracy for this technology is high since the vibratory mechanism of the human voice is nearly as distinct as fingerprints. Speaker recognition systems use spectrograms to represent human voices. Keystroke Recognition. This is another pattern recognition approach based on the rhythmic nature of operating a keyboard. In this process, the local subject enters a series of keystrokes, then compared with previously recorded pattern-based information. There are many more biometric devices in the market.

Research methodology. To research my extended essay on my topic, I distributed questionnaires in two-work, i.e. Flamingo Pharma and R.B.K. international academy. I analyzed the data, which was the primary data. I felt the need to collect primary data, as it would help me interpret the current scenario R.B.K. International Academy and Flamingo Pharma ltd. Both these workplaces use biometrics devices. I have interviewed all the staff members and even the M.D of the company Flamingo Pharma Ltd, which helped me know how useful these devices are, how many people are aware of this particular technology, and whether they have used these devices and what they think about them.

After finishing the collection of questionnaires, I then finished a detailed discussion on the data achieved and then analyzed the primary data, which was then followed by the interpretation and observations. I then gathered secondary data from websites, news articles, and books concerning the same topic. I felt that primary data wasn’t enough for me to analyze and conclude, which would answer my research question. I then finished a detailed discussion on the same and analyzed the secondary data, after which I completed the interpretation and observations. Finally, after all the research on primary data and the data, I went analyze primary and secondary data and concluded the same. I then wrote a conclusion, which would answer my research question.

Primary data analysis. The questionnaires were distributed at the two workplaces to determine users’ responses towards these devices at Flamingo Pharma Ltd. According to the results of the questionnaires, all the target audience had used a fingerprint device at the same workplace. Most of them were well informed about biometrics technology. There is a fingerprint device at Flamingo Pharma itself. They not only use fingerprints but also have used voice recognition and retina recognition on their laptops. These devices are used by almost all of them every day. When questioned about how useful these devices are, most of them find them very easy to use and helpful.

When interviewing the M.D of the company, he says that these devices are handy to us as we are running a company, and it’s useful to us for attendance purposes. All the results are stored in the database and are helpful at the end of the month while paying the employees. These devices are also used as a method of authentication to enter certain rooms in this particular workplace where there is the storage of goods and money. The majority of the people in Flamingo pharma use these devices, particularly devices used for various purposes. Many such employees even have these devices at home for security and safety purposes; as told by one that the locks these days can be easily broken nowadays, a higher security level is required for everyone.

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At Flamingo Pharma, they feel that the card swipe and other suck attendance devices can be misused, and others may swipe the card for someone else, whereas fingerprint devices can’t really be manipulated. At R.B.K. international academy: – R.B.K. international academy is an I.B. World school, and I have conducted research in this particular school, and even here, a fingerprint scanner is used for attendance purposes. About 80% of people are aware of biometrics technology. All the teachers in this school use it. They even make use of these devices on their laptops and computers. Most of them feel that it is easier to access and there is no need to remember passwords.

The school finds it goods as whenever a particular teacher enters, she/he swipes his/her finger, and all the data is then stored on the database; it records the time you enter, it marks the attendance. Therefore it is found very useful. Most of the teachers also find these devices very useful. Many of them even make use of voice recognition devices on their mobile phones. There are even certain areas in the school premises, which have biometric devices for authentication. The students also use these devices and are aware of them. They even use it for the authentication of their laptops and mobile phones. The students also find these devices very useful, and there is no need to save and remembering passwords.

Secondary data analysis. Future of biometrics: – Will biometrics gain universal acceptance and be a factor in our future? In today’s world, there are so many users of biometrics, and they are increasing rapidly. The biometrics systems are tough to mimic, and the most important reason is that the biological trait cannot be lost. They’re as possibilities of losing a password, key or credit card. Many people are not comfortable using these devices. It was also raised as social and ethical issues as “measurements can be obtained from an individual with or without their consent and in some cases with or without their consent and some cases with or without their knowledge.”

If a password or code becomes compromised or a key is stolen, an individual has some form of recourse; however, if a biometric is compromised, there is a serious problem as the individual characteristic on which the biometric is based cannot be changed. This is a good reason why leading industry organizations such as the International Biometrics Industry Association (IBIA) and the BioAPI Consortium recommend encryption. The answer to a prominent issue of what if the authentication does not work is to have a backup method to utilize if something goes wrong and you cannot be authenticated with the primary method. (Gary Daniel, “Biometrics – the wave of the future”)

Some of the current uses of this technology are the US-VISIT program instituted in January 2004, where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security takes photographs and digital fingerprints of some of the visitors before entering the U.S. and then compares them to a database of known criminals and terrorists. Some Federal buildings and corporations are utilizing biometrics for entry to office buildings and secure areas. There are several countries as well that are in the process of implementing biometrics into passports as well. Biometrics is being utilized for border security as well as at airports around the globe. Will the methods, when implemented, actually make us safer? Can this technology make us more secure? These are some of the questions that people should be asking themselves. (Gary Daniel, “Biometrics – the wave of the future”)

According to this book: – Security in computing by Pfleeger and Pfleeger. The three categories of privacy concerns are as follows: – Unintended functional scope: the authentication does more than authenticate, for example, finding a tumour in the eye from a scan or detecting arthritis from a hand reading. Unintended application scope: the authentication routine identifies the subject, for example, if a subject enrolls under a false name but is identified by a match with an existing biometric record in another database. Convert identification: the subject is identified without seeking identification or authentication, for example, if the subject is identified as a face in a crowd.

False negatives: – The fingerprint scanner produces results, which are slightly different every time, which depends on the system being configured on the tolerance level. If the tolerance level is configured very loose, you can virtually eliminate false negatives at the cost of greatly increasing false positives. The accuracy rate is also heavily influenced by how many possible fingerprints matches the system has to be considered. The accuracy rate is also heavily influenced by how many possible fingerprints matches the system has to consider. If the system has to match your scan against a large database of enrolled fingerprints, it’s far more likely to come up with a false positive and somewhat more likely to come up with a false negative Many modern systems avoid this problem by matching your fingerprint against only one possible user – the user stored in your card or another credential – so the chances of a false positive are meagre because someone trying to trick the system can’t just match ‘anyone’s fingerprint, they have to match ‘your’ fingerprint.

Also, the match tolerance can be set very high, thereby further reducing the chances of a false positive but increasing a false negative. (Future Lab) So you can virtually eliminate the false, but doesn’t the relatively high false-negative rate mean that legitimate users will be frequently locked out? Not necessarily; it depends on the penalty for getting a false negative. In most physical access and IT applications, you just have to scan your finger a second time if you get a false negative. Hence, a high false-negative rate is an inconvenience, not a security issue. Let’s say it takes you 2 seconds to scan your finger, and the false-negative error rate is 5%. Most of the time (95%), access is granted in two seconds. Most of the rest of the time (99.75%), you’ll get in with two swipes and four seconds. Every 400 tries or so, you’ll have to wait six seconds. For applications that don’t heavily penalize users for false negatives, biometric systems can usually be tuned to an acceptably high level of accuracy. (Future Lab)

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Some of the current uses of this technology are the US-VISIT program instituted in January 2004, where the U.S. Department of Homeland Security takes photographs and digital fingerprints of some of the visitors before entering the U.S. and then compares them to a database of known criminals and terrorists. Some Federal buildings and corporations are utilizing biometrics for entry to office buildings and secure areas. There are several countries as well that are in the process of implementing biometrics into passports as well. Biometrics is being utilized for border security as well as at airports around the globe.

With escalating world issues such as terrorism being the drivers behind the pushing for some means of figuring out who is where and what they are doing at any given moment, will some of our liberties be lost? Will the methods, when implemented, actually make us safer? Can this technology make us more secure? These are some of the questions that people should be asking themselves. (Gary Daniel, “Biometrics – the wave of the future”)

There are so many ways biometrics could enhance one’s life and make it more easy and simple. It could be used to unlock a car, access an ATM without the pin, and open doors of offices and homes where a high-security level is required. It could be used to log on to accounts without the passwords required. Biometrics could be used in e-commerce to help companies and users sell and purchase products online. But still, people may have personal or religious reasons for not liking the use of biometric. This is both the application of the devices and the usage of them. Especially elderly people don’t like to use new technology, and retina scans may seem hard to accept.

Also, people from non-technology countries may fear using such technology, just as the Native Americans feared that taking a photograph of them would steal their soul. Finally, there are philosophical objections to the perceived loss of autonomy and control if the use of biometrics is so widespread as to become virtually required to conduct the day-to-day aspects of one’s life. Many people see the process of scanning fingerprints as analogues to crime and police business (Vidar Ajaxon Gr�nland, Havard Hasli, Jon Fredrik Pettersen, “Challenging fingerprint scanner”).

Fear of disease. Having several people touch the same biometric equipment will, in people’s minds (probably true), increase the transfer of bacteria and possibly diseases—fear of criminal activity. Watching too many movies, most public presumably believes that cutting a finger of you will be enough to circumvent fingerprint censors. This is a false consumption since most high-level security sensors implement liveliness detection additionally to the scan itself. The criminal will probably force you to authenticate yourself using threats or other methods (Vidar Ajaxon Gr�nland, Havard Hasli, Jon Fredrik Pettersen, “Challenging fingerprint scanner”).

Laws. Most countries have laws that protect people against misuse of personal information, some weaker than others. Anne Cavoukian explains this in a good manner in her report: – The rights to privacy and fair information practices are part of the legal framework of most countries and come into play when dealing with any identification system like biometrics technologies mentioned here. Other non-criminal, legal issues may surround biometric systems. For example, labour laws in many jurisdictions limit the information that employers may require employees to provide. Privacy laws limit the disclosure of information to third parties for a purpose not consistent with the purpose of the original collection. Privacy laws may also restrict the merging of disparate databases. This would limit matching biometric and other electronic information to develop a comprehensive profile about an individual.

One problem with this is that the general public does not know how biometric methods work. It is a well-known phenomenon that people are not fond of using technology that they don’t understand or seem intimidating (Vidar Ajaxon Gr�nland, Havard Hasli, Jon Fredrik Pettersen, “Challenging fingerprint scanner”). Religious Objections. In the United States, religious objections to biometrics might arise from a variety of different groups.9 For example, certain Christians interpret biometrics to be a “Mark of the Beast.” The objection is based on language in “Revelation”: [The Beast] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save that he had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. And his number is six hundred, threescore, and six. (Revelation, 13:16-18.)

Certain Christians consider the biometric to be the brand discussed in Revelation, and biometric readers as the only means of viewing these brands. Similarly, M. G. “Pat” Robertson, host of “The 700 Club” and founder of The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., observes that the “Bible says the time is going to come when you cannot buy or sell except when a mark is placed on your hand or forehead.” He expresses doubts about biometrics and notes how the technology is proceeding according to Scripture (700 Club, 1995). Religious objections have arisen when identification programs have been implemented. In Alabama, two people objected to providing an SSN to apply for a driver’s license as required under Alabama law. The individuals based their refusal on their sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from having an SSN. This case is pending in the Alabama state courts (Alabama Lawsuit, 2000). (“What concerns do biometrics raise and how do they differ from concerns about other identification methods?”).

Biometrics in banks: – Many times, the employees attempt to withdraw money from the customer’s account without their consent. Many-a-times it is done by some other people also, although they need the account information. There are many fraud cases, and hence banks feel that a higher level of security is required. Implying this system in banking would have many advantages. Then a customer enrolls to create an account; even the fingerprint is taken and stored. No ID cards will be required for this process for the sake of attendance, which could be used for employees. Banks have decided to install this technology for – Client security: – Securing the transaction enables clients to authenticate themselves before any transaction is there in their account.

Bank security: – To keep money in safes that open with the help of biometric devices. Locker safety: – The clients don’t have to carry keys all around; they could access the lockers with a simple fingerprint swipe. There are many bank companies, which have incorporated biometrics technology in their systems. For example, when a person goes to an ATM, the user’s photo is taken. If there is a complaint, then the photo is checked, and the fraud is identified. In contrast, when biometric devices like face recognition are added to ATMs, there would be fewer ways of fraud, and the machine won’t let the person browse or remove money from the account if it doesn’t match. Facts of biometrics in banking: – Deutsche-bank is a European financial service provider with 65,000 employees; installed AC Controls security to establish biometric access to their building.

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Fingerprint readers determine who can enter their offices and also restricts what areas each person can access (Steve Krawczyk, Biometrics in the Banking Industry) Banco-Bradesco, South America’s largest private bank, has Incorporated Nuance technology to deploy a speech-enabled bill payment System, which can handle more than 300 simultaneous callers (Steve Krawczyk, Biometrics in the Banking Industry). Bill Payment takes place when a person: –

  • Enroll:(account number)
  • Verify: Speak their account number
  • Read the 48-digit bar code on the bill then the system extracts the payee, customer name, due date, and the payment amount.
  • Able to recognize accents and dialects of all Portuguese speakers in Brazil

Chase Manhattan Bank For bank transactions: –

  • Enroll with a standard phrase
  • When entering the bank
  • Go to a podium housing a modified telephone
  • Swipe the bank card (identification)
  • Speak the standard phrase (verification)
  • Receive a receipt to present to teller
  • Able to pull the customer’s file before they get to the teller

Performance: – Reported False Reject Rates of 2% (Steve Krawczyk, Biometrics in the Banking Industry) Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi

  • Chose vein pattern recognition, coupled with smartcards, to increase the security of teller and ATM transactions
  • Suruga Bank
  • Chose vein pattern recognition to increase the security of over the counter transactions (Steve Krawczyk, Biometrics in the Banking Industry)

Biometric passports: – What are biometric passports? Due to the increase in crime rates, better security and technology are required. Biometric passports are introduced in many countries for the same. Biometric devices are also known as e-passports, which is a combined paper and electronic password. This passport uses biometrics to authenticate the identity of travellers. The biometric device uses contactless smart card technology, which includes a microprocessor chip and antenna embedded in the front or back of the cover or center page of the passport. The important information is printed on the data page as well saved onto the chip. This chip uses the public key in fracture (PKI) to authenticate data stored electronically, which makes it impossible to forge; some of the countries having/ introducing biometric passports:-

India: – India has designed an electronic passport made in India by the Central Passport Organization, the India security press and IIT Kanpur. Consisting of a security chip with all personal data and digital images of the holder, the passport use 64kb chips, which contains photographs of the owner and a fingerprint. It is expected to launch in 2012 ( Tajikistan: – A biometric passport will be introduced in mid-2010 in this country ( Switzerland: – Switzerland is releasing new passports with fingerprints by the mid of 2010 ( Pakistan: – Introduced in 2004, NADRA has issued more than 7 million passports ( The United Kingdom: – Introduced in 2006 and is available (

Austria: – Available since June 16th, 2006 ( Germany: – Available since November 2005 ( Poland: – Available since 28 August 2006 ( Turkmenistan became the first country in the ex-USSR mid- Asia region to issue ICAO compliant biometric passports. Passport is available since 10 July 2008 ( Conclusion. As we have seen, biometrics technology is used in many places and is getting recognized. It is becoming trendy, and many workplaces, schools and police departments use it for various purposes. Nowadays, most laptops also come with an inbuilt device such as a fingerprint and retina scanner. Such devices are used for security purposes to unlock particular devices. Such technology is rapidly increasing and is being added to mobile phones, PDA’s etc., the typed passwords used to unlock a device are being replaced by these devices. It becomes much easier, and many times a user could forget the password, by in the case of biometrics, that is not possible.

The option of a biometric device for security is much safer compared to keys and locks. The locks could be broken into, and duplicate keys of the lock could be made and misused, whereas, in these devices, it is not possible to mimic it and needs proper authentication. There are many disadvantages of these devices and many social and ethical issues that need to be resolved. Many of the users have a fear of disease, and the laws of every country are different. Many users don’t feel secure if their data, i.e. fingerprints etc., is saved onto the database. There are even a few religious objections existing that need to be resolved. Due to the rapid growth in usage of these devices and user-friendly features, their usage is increasing day by day. And it is expected to gain more importance and will gain user acceptance shortly gradually.


1. Gary Daniel, “Biometrics – the wave of the future?”

Date of Extraction: 15th January 2009

2. Phil Libin, “A practical summary of the advantages and drawbacks of today’s biometric systems for mainstream customers,” 2005

Date of Extraction: 23rd March 2009

3. Vidar Ajaxon Gr�nland, Havard Hasli, Jon Fredrik Pettersen, “Challenging fingerprint scanner,” October 16th, 2005

Date of Extraction: 2nd April 2009

4. “What concerns do biometrics raise, and how do they differ from concerns about other identification methods?”

Date of Extraction: 23rd April 2009

5. “U.S.A. Supreme Technology.”

Date of Extraction: 7th May 2009

6. “History of Biometrics.”

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