Understanding Federated Biometric Authentication

by Kathy McCloud

Biometric authentication refers to the use of some parts of a physical makeup in authenticating a person’s true identity. It could be a fingerprint, retina scan, or additional characteristics. One characteristic could be used. It just depends on the level of identity verification needed.

With most biometric authentication systems, the physical characteristics examined are mapped to the username, which is often used in decision making after the individual character has been authenticated.

In many cases, the user has to enter a specific user name when trying to authenticate.

 In other cases, a quick lookup is conducted on the sample to determine the actual user name.

Biometric authentication is carried out using a comparison of a person’s physical aspect presented for authentication against a stored copy. For instance, you may have to place your finger on the fingerprint reader if the comparison is to be one. In case the fingerprint matches the sample stored, then authentication should be successful.

To set up a biometric authentication system, you must have the right infrastructure. And when this has been accomplished, users are registered in the database. Some products may allow users to register into the system directly. Others need registration agents to perform the task on behalf of the user.

The fingerprint-based authentication is a perfect example. During the process of registration, the system asks the user to present a sample. The user then places a finger on the reader.

The system records images of the person’s fingerprints. It uses several images in determining a point pattern used in identifying the fingerprint of the user. These points are known as dots.

They are useful in the denotation of a pattern made by the prints. Immediately the needed numbers of samples have been analyzed from the point pattern; the pattern shall be stored and then used to make comparisons later.

Biometric authentication is a yielding authentication method used by multiple organizations. It, however, has its challenges too. One major problem with this type of authentication is that it needs rather special hardware like a fingerprint reader and a retina scanner.

The hardware should be installed and then configured on every single system that shall be used to log in. This can relatively limit the general usability of the system.

Other than that, you cannot just walk up to a system and then expect to utilize it in the authentication. It can be problematic when you are not in the perimeters of the organization.

That is if you are working remotely since you need to have a system that comes with the necessary hardware installed.

The cost can be an added issue, too, especially with biometrics. The hardware needed for biometric authentication is costly and needs to be bought for a variety of authentication endpoints.

As a result, the first investment needed for a biometric solution can be sizeable.

Final Thoughts

Biometric authentication regimes are known to solve multiple problems in a company’s security system. Even so, they may be unhelpful in some situations, in as much as they present the system administrator with a broad range of unique issues. In a proper company security network, biometric elements are only useful where people often interact with SCADA security.

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