Simple Lack of Hygiene Fools Most Biometric Scanners

A new report out of the US National Research Council asks that you leave the severed fingers and popped out eyeballs at home when trying to fool biometric scanners.

Turns out the body's natural aging process is enough to fool these fallible systems, as are the grime, grease, moisture and dirt that naturally accumulate on a person's finger throughout the day.

Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities addresses the issues surrounding broader implementation of this technology, making two main points: first, biometric recognition systems are incredibly complex, and need to be addressed as such. Second, biometric recognition is an inherently probabilistic endeavor. Consequently, even when the technology and the system in which it is embedded are behaving as designed, there is inevitable uncertainty and risk of error. This book elaborates on these themes in detail to provide policy makers, developers, and researchers a comprehensive assessment of biometric recognition that examines current capabilities, future possibilities, and the role of government in technology and system development. - Excerpted from the report's executive summary j.l.

In light of their report, the council wisely recommends the obvious: Security professionals should use biometric security as a complementary security technique. It's effective to a point, but there should certainly be other systems in place that will mitigate any newspaper ink-on-finger mistakes. [New Scientist]