Using Biometrics and Smartcard Technologies to Boost Digital Security

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Security is a challenging necessity in the world today. Individuals and organizations need to protect what belongs to them from theft or hacks. It is, therefore, important to distinctly and precisely identify people and what they can have access to.

Nowadays, everyone carries identification cards (IDs) to identify themselves as having certain rights and responsibilities. With issues such as fake IDs, hacks, identity theft, and corporate information theft, among other security concerns, government agencies and private organizations use secure identification systems to verify that a person presenting a card is who they claim to be.

This article discusses the use of smart cards and biometrics in securing ID systems to augment digital security.

What is a Secure Identification System?

A safe ID system is a process that verifies whether an individual is who he/she claims to be. If accurately crafted, the system should also be able to ascertain that the individual submitting a card is the person who owns the credentials on the ID.

Also, the ID Card itself must be portable, and the system should be able to verify that the card isn’t counterfeit or altered.

What is a Smart Card?

Smart cards, also known as chip cards or integrated circuit cards, are pocket-sized cards with embedded integrated circuits which can process data. They are commonly known as a safe and dependable method of electronic identification. These plastic cards are embedded with a computer chip that stores and transmits data between users.

According to Cardzgroup, a major producer of plastic and smart cards, they are used to enhance systems in critical ID applications for healthcare, transportation, banking, entertainment, and defense industries.

Cardzgroup also opines that smart cards should contain an embedded microcontroller that has the unique ability to retain large amounts of data. They should carry out their own card functions (like digital signatures and encryption) and interact intelligently with a smart card reader.

However, a smart ID card can fuse some ID technologies like a magnetic stripe, embedded chip, optical stripe, visual security markings, and barcodes. Other applications of smart cards are wireless communication, government identification, credit cards, computer security systems, and satellite TV loyalty systems.

Smartcards may also include PVC, smart tokens, sim cards, scratch cards, contactless and contact smart cards,

Smartcards and ID Systems

The use of smart ID devices, especially in the form of smart cards, offers benefits for both virtual and physical security. They can provide secure and accurate identity verification and when combined with other ID system technologies like biometrics. They can improve security and safeguard the privacy of all system information.

The benefits also include the power and handiness of the smart cards, well-designed system, architecture, and strict operating procedures combine to form a reliable and controllable mechanism for a secure ID system.

ID Systems and the Use of Biometrics

Biometrics are automatic methods of recognizing or confirming the identity of a person based on distinctive physiological and behavioral characteristics. New secure ID system applications are using biometrics to deliver a guarantee that an individual presenting an ID card has the right to use it. The common types of distinctive features used for biometrics are fingerprints, facial, iris, voice, hand geometry, retinal, and written signature.

It is a suitable and secure method of identification since it can’t be stolen, forgotten, and it’s difficult to forge. However, it also has some vulnerabilities. Since these simple biometrics are verified visually, and it is a subjective procedure, an inspector can be tricked (for example, if a look-alike uses a valid ID). Furthermore, an applicant may not provide correct information initially, or the characteristics may have changed. However, choosing a biometric technology will depend on several factors, including the environment where the ID verification is carried out.

Suggested Reading: Biometrics authentication is future of identity authorization: IBM Study

How Combined Smart Card/Biometric Identification System Improves Security

Biometric technologies are combined with smart cards for ID systems due to their capacity for detecting people with minimal doubt. For example, when you present a card, any biometric centered ID will verify information about who you claim to be, based on who you are (the biometric data saved on the card), with what you know (such as a pin). This improves the precision of the cardholder authentication.

Any ID application using smartcards and biometrics has significant security advantages. These include:

  • The template and other personal information stored on the card can be encrypted to defend the system against external hacks.
  • The individual biometric template stored on the card at the time of data capture can be checked between the biometric capture device and the smart card each time the card is used.
  • The biometric template is always on the card protecting the information from being accessed during transmission and helping address the user’s privacy.
  • A smart card can verify both its validity and that of the reader by creating a joint authenticated cryptographic challenge between the ID card and the reader before identity verification is granted. This provides privacy and prevents inappropriate leak of sensitive information. It also guards against the skimming of data used for identity theft.
  • Using cryptographic keys and algorithms stored in its secure memory, a smart card can be used to prove the digital identity of a card user.
  • Smart cards have enough memory to store increasing data, templates, and cryptographic keys to restrict data access. This feature ensures that information is not misplaced, erased, or added.

With a mix of biometric data and smart card security functions, cardholder identity can be verified more accurately and securely. Also, a combination can deliver performance, privacy, investment gains, and above all, security.

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