(n.) Biometrics generally refers to the study of measurable biological characteristics. In computer security, biometrics refers to authentication techniques that rely on measurable physical characteristics that can be automatically checked.

There are several types of biometric identification schemes:

face: the analysis of facial characteristics
fingerprint: the analysis of an individual’s unique fingerprints
hand geometry: the analysis of the shape of the hand and the length of the fingers
retina: the analysis of the capillary vessels located at the back of the eye
iris: the analysis of the colored ring that surrounds the eye’s pupil
signature: the analysis of the way a person signs his name.
vein: the analysis of pattern of veins in the back if the hand and the wrist
voice: the analysis of the tone, pitch, cadence and frequency of a person’s voice.

Though the field is still in its infancy, many people believe that biometrics will play a critical role in future computers, and especially in electronic commerce. Personal computers of the future might include a fingerprint scanner where you could place your index finger. The computer would analyze your fingerprint to determine who you are and, based on your identity, authorize you different levels of access. Access levels could include the ability to use credit card information to make electronic purchases.

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