Biometric security compares physical characteristics against stored profiles to authenticate people. A profile is a data file containing known characteristics of an individual. A fingerprint, as shown in Figure 1, a face pattern, or retina scan, as shown in Figure 2, are all examples of biometric data. In theory, biometric security is more secure than security measures such as passwords or smart cards, because passwords can be discovered and smart cards can be stolen. Common biometric devices available include fingerprint readers, retina scanners, and face and voice recognition devices. The user is granted access if their characteristics match saved settings and the correct login information is supplied.

Biometric devices, which measure physical information about a user, are ideal for highly secure areas when combined with a secondary security measure such as a password or pin. However, for most small organizations, this type of solution is too expensive.

Smart Card Security

A smart card is a small plastic card, about the size of a credit card, with a small chip embedded in it, as shown in Figure 3. The chip is an intelligent data carrier, capable of processing, storing, and safeguarding data. Smart cards store private information, such as bank account numbers, personal identification, medical records, and digital signatures. Smart cards provide authentication and encryption to keep data safe.

Security Key Fob

A security key fob is a small device that resembles the ornament on a key ring, as shown in Figure 4. It has a radio that communicates with a computer over a short range. The fob is small enough to attach to a key ring. The computer must detect the signal from the key fob before it accepts a username and password.