BIOMETRICS is the measurement of biological data. The term biometrics is commonly used today to refer to the authentication of a person by analyzing physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, or behavioral characteristics, such as signatures. Since many physical and behavioral characteristics are unique to an individual, biometrics provides a more reliable system of authentication than ID cards, keys, passwords, or other traditional systems. The word biometrics comes from two Greek words and means life and measure.

Any characteristic can be used as a biometric identifier if (1) every person possesses the characteristic, (2) it varies from person to person, (3) its properties do not change considerably over time, and (4) it can be measured manually or automatically. Physical characteristics commonly used in biometric authentication include face, fingerprints, handprints, eyes, and voice. Biometric authentication can be used to control the security of computer networks, electronic commerce and banking transactions, and restricted areas in office buildings and factories. It can help prevent fraud by verifying identities of voters and holders of driver's license or visas.

In authentication, a sensor captures a digital image of the characteristic being used to verify the user's identity. A computer program extracts a pattern of distinguishing features from the digital image. Another program compares this pattern with the one representing the user that was recorded earlier and stored in the system database. If the patterns match well enough, the biometric system will conclude that the person is who he or she claims to be.

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