Close up of hand using laptop with digital big data interface. Technology, programming and software conceptA useful and growing field in the area of identity authentication is biometrics. The three major accepted factors for identification are knowing something, having something and being something. A person can identify themselves through demonstrating a secret piece of knowledge such as a password or PIN, producing an access card, fob or key or presenting something that is a part of them, like their fingerprint. The last category is what we mean when we talk about biometrics.

What Are Biometrics Used For?

Biometrics are used as one factor of identification for controlling access to a particular location or computer system. What can biometrics identify? By matching some aspect of a person with information stored on a database, biometrics should be able to definitively prove that an individual is who they say they are. For example, a person can look into an eye scanner that can read their iris shape or retinal pattern and compare it with those of authorized personnel on file. Since only the user should be able to have that eye pattern, the system can accurately identify correct users.

What Are Behavioral Biometrics?

The biometric identifiers above, fingerprints and eye patterns, are physiological biometrics. That is, they work based on something that’s a part of a person’s body. Other physiological biometrics can include vein patterns, ear shapes and facial recognition. Behavioral biometrics work by comparing an individual’s unique behavior to a sample in the database.

A classic example of a behavioral biometric is a signature. People have used signatures as verification for centuries because most everyone signs their name in their own unique way. While it’s possible to duplicate a signature, it takes a lot of work because another person’s speed, pressure, style and accuracy when writing is very difficult to copy exactly.

Types of behavioral biometrics we use for identity authentication today include gait analysis, voice print identification and keystroke dynamics.

What Are Keystroke Dynamics?

Keystroke dynamics, also called typing biometrics, are a type of behavioral biometric based on a person’s typing style. It’s essentially the digital version of handwriting analysis. When a person types a sentence into a computer, it looks the same on the screen as when anyone else does it — but we don’t all get there the same way.

Some people may take longer or shorter on average to type a word or start a new word. Certain letters may take longer for some typists to locate than others. Users may apply different levels of pressure when typing or type letters on the left or right side of the keyboard faster. Some may always use caps lock rather than the shift key to capitalize a word. A keystroke biometric program can collect all this data and compare it to prior samples to identify a user.

Contact Optimal IdM to Learn More

Behavioral biometrics can be very useful as part of multi-factor authentication to control access to sensitive data in computer systems. To learn more about biometrics and identity access management in general, contact Optimal IdM — the experts in identity access management — today.

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