Security and the human factor

I was interested to read that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Pilgrimage is going to deploy a range of biometric scanners for this year’s Hajj.

  • E-Mail
By  Mark Sutton Published  February 10, 2002

I was interested to read that the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Pilgrimage is going to deploy a range of biometric scanners for this year’s Hajj.

The retina and fingerprint scanners will be used to screen undesirables amongst the pilgrims, and be used to help combat the problem of pilgrims that don’t return home after the Hajj.

The move is one of the largest deployments of biometric technology so far, and aside from the fact that there are not yet comprehensive records to compare the screening results against, it is interesting to see the technology getting a proper ‘real world’ test.

Biometrics is an interesting area of security technology, and one that is receiving a lot of interest of late, but it is also a technology that throws up some unique issues.

The technology behind biometrics has been optimised for some time now, but it has now been widely rolled out, partly because of costs, but more because of the ethical concerns of fixing ‘identity’ and ‘authentication’ to a part of a users ‘anatomy’, for want of a better word.

To elaborate, if a bank manager has the numerical code for his bank’s vault memorised, then it is up to him if, when confronted with bank robbers, whether he hands over that code or not, and in general, banks have policies that instruct him to hand it over—they are insured, after all.

But if the vault is secured not by a password, but by a fingerprint, then bank robbers don’t need the bank manager’s co-operation—they just need his finger. This has made many corporations very reluctant to introduce biometrics.

The biometrics vendors are working to avoid these problems, with technology that can tell living tissue from otherwise, but attached or not, finger is still a finger. Hopefully corporations new found taste for security won’t mean that they ignore these issues.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code