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Identification and Authentication
One of the most basic forms of human and computer interaction is identification and authentication. There are differences between the two.
Identification is determining if someone is known to the system. You do this by presenting some form of identification to indicate that you are a user of the system. Authentication is verifying the identity of the person. These are two separate concepts that work together.
- Username – this is typically used for computers
- Bankcard – this is typically used for ATMs
- Pin code
Identification is providing the system with information to say that one is a user of the system. Authentication verifies with the system if the user is who they say they are. Just because somebody knows who you are a user and has your identification doesn’t necessarily mean that they can access the system unless they have your password or pin code, too. That’s why it’s important to keep authenticating information confidential so that we can keep other users from violating our privacy, committing fraud or theft and using services they shouldn’t be.
Three Basic Factors for Authentication
- Something you know – password, pin code
- Something you have – smart card, secure ID key
- Something you are – biometrics
For strong authentication, you need to have 2-factor authentication. You can have two separate forms of ID, or you can require a combination of something you know and something you have, e.g. a fingerprint and a pin code. Using just a username and a password is not strong authentication as it just uses two things you know.
Disadvantages of Things You Know
- You have to make sure that no one else knows it.
- It is easy to guess passwords that are easy to remember.
- It is hard to remember passwords that are hard to guess.
Disadvantages of Things You Have
- It can be stolen.
- It can be lost.
- It can be broken.
Advantages of Things You Are
- It can’t be lost.
- It can’t be guessed or read by someone else.
- It is difficult to uniquely identify.
What is Biometrics?
Biometrics can be defined as any human characteristic that may be used for biometric identification and authentication. Identification and authentication are based on behavioural and physiological characteristics.
- Palm print
- Facial structure
Using physiological characteristics is more accurate than using behavioural characteristics. Each characteristic has its own degree of accuracy. But the higher the accuracy, the more difficult it is to collect the information, for example, an iris scan.
Biometrics can be used for both identification and authentication.
Uses of Biometric Identification
- It is used to detect fraud.
- It is used to prevent fraud.
Advantages of Biometrics
- Reduced cost – no need to replace if lost or call a helpdesk to reset a password.
- Reduced size – it is not stored as a raw file but as a template.
- Increased security – it is hard to fake.
- Increased convenience – no need to bring something or remember something.
- Increased accountability – it is hard to deny that the user is the one who accessed the system.
Disadvantages of Biometrics
- You cannot change your biometrics. If someone was able to hack your biometrics you cannot change it like you would with a password.
- Unhygienic. Biometric scanners can be used many times a day by many different people and you can acquire or spread germs from using them.
- Delay. Some devices take time to scan and sometimes require multiple tries to be able to read your biometrics. This can cause delays and tardiness for some employees, for example, as they cannot gain immediate access to their workspace.