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Technology Overview

 

About SecuGen Technology

1. Why fingerprints?
2. SecuGen's core technology
3. SecuGen's SEIR optical method and product workmanship
4. Comparison between SecuGen's optical method and semiconductor (chip) method
5. How it works
6. Fake or spoofed fingerprints

About Biometric Technology

7. Why biometrics?
8. Biometrics applied
9. Typical biometric systems
10. Identification vs. verification
11. Authentication
12. False Acceptance Rates (FAR) and False Rejection Rates (FRR)
13. Expected growth

 

About SecuGen Technology

1. Why fingerprints?

Fingerprint biometrics represents over 50% of all biometric methods in use today. A mature and well-developed technology fostered by healthy competition among many biometric technology providers, fingerprint recognition is considered the best choice for many applications because of its accuracy, speed, reliability, non-intrusive interfaces, and cost-effectiveness.

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2. SecuGen's core technology

SecuGen's core technology is designed into a revolutionary, patented optical module that works with a powerful set of extraction and matching algorithms developed for use with the unique SEIR optical method. The module is embedded in SecuGen's line of fingerprint PC peripheral devices and stand-alone devices used by OEMs around the world for applications such as access control and time & attendance. Software is available for desktop computer users, networks, and the Internet serving a variety of needs.

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3. SecuGen's SEIR Optical Method and Product Workmanship

Fingerprints can be scanned in different ways. Current techniques include optical, ultrasound, and technologies based on semiconductor chips.

SecuGen has pioneered the Surface Enhanced Irregular Reflection (SEIR) optical method and patented technology, resulting in the most compact and durable optics-based fingerprint recognition systems in the world. For more information, read the SecuGen SEIR Optical Technology whitepaper.

The scratch-proof platen of the patented optical module is another first in the industry; as hard as quartz, the sensor surface requires no special coatings or maintenance and is virtually unbreakable.

The robust hardware extends the lifetime of SecuGen products far beyond any chip-based fingerprinting technologies and is easily small enough to embed into consumer devices.

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4. SecuGen's Optical Method vs. Semiconductor (Chip) Method

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5. How it Works

At the most basic level, all optics-based fingerprint systems translate illuminated images of fingerprints into digital code for further software processing, e.g. enrollment (fingerprint registration) and verification (authentication of registered users).

SecuGen devices use the advanced SEIR method and CMOS image sensor to capture high contrast, high resolution fingerprint images that are virtually distortion-free.

A series of powerful algorithms developed by SecuGen extract minutiae data from the image, mapping the distinguishing characteristics of fingerprint ridge ends, splits, dots, and arches. Other fingerprint minutiae include whorls, loops, ridge lines, valleys, bifurcations, upper and lower cores, and deltas.

This data is then converted into a digital template (around 400 bytes) and stored in memory or on disk. (The actual fingerprint image is never stored, and cannot be constructed from templates.)

To identify or verify a fingerprint, a proprietary matching algorithm compares the extracted minutiae points from the input fingerprint to a previously stored sample. The entire matching process takes roughly one second. Authentication takes place either locally or on a server, depending on system configuration.

Note that, for security, although your fingerprint image is momentarily captured, it is deleted immediately after being processed by an advanced extraction algorithm.

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6. Fake or spoofed fingerprints

SecuGen devices also protect against latent fingerprints left on the sensor surface and "faked" 2-D fingerprints, such as photocopies or photographs. Constantly striving for innovation and meeting customer demands, SecuGen continues to research and develop new methods to counteract spoofing attacks, features once considered the exclusive domain of expensive and highly specialized ultrasound technologies.

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About Biometric Technology

7. Why biometrics?

What qualities distinguish you from your neighbor? Of course our personalities differ to some extent, but there is a physical uniqueness as well. Once identified, these physical characteristics can be exactly measured, numbered, and counted. The statistical use of variations in these elements of living organisms is known collectively as biometrics. A person's biometric data can be collected and analyzed in a number of ways. This type of information is especially useful for personal identification, in which people are recognized by biometric-based security systems according to their own unique corporal or behavioral characteristics. Human traits and mannerisms that can be used in biometrics include fingerprints, voice, face, retina, iris, handwriting, and hand geometry.

Biometric methods of identification are currently being used to replace the less secure ID/Password method of user authentication, that is, verifying that people are who they say they are. Using biometric identifiers for personal authentication reduces or eliminates reliance on tokens we must carry with us, or the arcane strings of letters and numbers we are forced to memorize. Tokens, such as smart cards, magnetic stripe cards, and physical keys can be lost, stolen, or duplicated. Human memory is notoriously unreliable; according to recent estimates, at least 40% of all help desk calls are password or PIN-related. Losses attributed to fraud, identity theft, and cyber vandalism due to password reliance run well into the billions. Although passwords have traditionally been used for personal authentication, they have nothing to do with a person's actual identity!

Biometrics can be integrated into any application that requires security, access control, and identification or verification of people. With biometric security, we can dispense with the key, the password, the PIN code; the access-enabler is you - not something you know, or something you have in your possession. Remember, biometrically secured resources are based on who a person is, effectively eliminating risks associated with less advanced technologies, while at the same time offering a higher level of security and convenience.

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8. Biometrics Applied

Biometrics security technology basically acts as a front end to a system that requires precise identification before it can be accessed or used. That system could be a sliding door with electronic locking mechanisms, an operating system, or an application where individual users have their own rights and permissions. In computer security, the term biometrics refers to authentication techniques that automatically check measurable biological characteristics of end users.

Examples include computer analysis of fingerprint minutiae data or speech patterns. Of course, this is partly what passwords have done all along. Again, the problem is that a password has nothing to do with your actual identity. There is simply no foolproof way to make password-protected systems completely safe from unauthorized intrusion. Nor is there any way for password-based systems to determine user identity beyond doubt.

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9. Typical Biometric Systems

Fingerprint Recognition
Face Recognition
Iris Recognition
Hand Geometry
Voice Recognition
Signature Recognition

Comparison
Popular biometric systems in use today include iris recognition, voice recognition, and fingerprint recognition systems. Iris recognition can be very accurate, but scanning the human eye is a sensitive issue that some users find uncomfortable. Voice recognition systems are very cost-effective but often exhibit unacceptably high false rejection rates stemming from illness, hoarseness, or other throat problems. Fingerprint recognition is generally considered a very practical choice for its reliability, non-intrusive interfaces, and cost-effectiveness.

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10. Identification vs. Verification

There are two primary functions offered by any biometric system. One is identification, a one-to-many (1:M) matching process wherein a biometric sample is compared to a set of stored samples in a database. The other is verification, a one-to-one (1:1) matching process in which the biometric system compares an individual's biometric sample to previously enrolled data for that user. The process of verification narrows the biometric database search by including other identifiers such as names or IDs. The terms "verification" and "authentication" are sometimes used interchangeably because both terms are used primarily to establish a specific user's validity rather than to identify users by querying an entire database of biometric samples.

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11. Authentication

Any systematic method of confirming the identity of an individual. Some methods are more secure than others. Simple authentication methods include user name and password, while more secure methods include token-based one-time passwords. The most secure authentication methods include layered "multimodal" biometric procedures. This is independent of authorization.

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12. FAR and FRR

Most modern biometric security systems can be fine-tuned to fit the needs of either high security or low security environments. Increasing security in biometric systems sometimes makes them more finicky, resulting in an increased False Rejection Rate (FRR) - this is manifested when a registered user's biometric data (e.g. fingerprint minutiae data) is rejected by the system. In these cases, emphasis on ambient lighting, climate, or user training may be needed. The net effect of FRR is usually nothing more than inconvenience to users. However, if security is set too low, the False Acceptance Rate (FAR) may increase. This is potentially far more serious, since it involves an unauthorized person gaining access to protected resources. The FAR and FRR vary widely among different types and makes of biometric systems.

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13. Expected Growth

The Internet has become a permanent fixture in the lives of millions worldwide. The range of transactions now performed online runs the gamut of our daily living, and the stores never close. From routine banking to booking hotel reservations, from Wall Street to your retirement fund, the modern business offers online services to stay competitive.

The ballooning growth in electronic transactions has resulted in greater demands for fast and accurate user identification and authentication methods. Biometric technology is now being deployed as a means of tightening security and simplifying user access in a landscape once guarded only by expensive firewalls and easily cracked passwords, subject to configuration issues, human error, and malice.

Fingerprints are among the least intrusive and most reliable biometrics in use, generally considered the best choice for speed, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. Advances in technology occur at a lightning pace, changing the way we do things at home and at work. Increasingly we find ourselves struggling to retain mastery of a host of constantly evolving technologies and services.

After years of research and development, biometric security systems are now in the forefront of modern security. Although public acceptance has lagged behind expectations for certain biometric applications, many concerns have been dispelled through persistent engagement and education, particularly in the area of fingerprint recognition.

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