Gartner Research

Designing Biometric Authentication and Identification Systems

Published: 13 March 2008

ID: G00203459

Analyst(s): Bob Blakley


Biometrics are not like other authentication technologies, and system designers who want to add biometrics to their identity and security toolboxes need to understand the distinctive characteristics of biometrics before they can use them effectively. In this overview, Research Director Bob Blakley describes what makes biometrics different, illustrates the structure of a biometric system, and explains how to use biometrics effectively as a component of a larger identity and security system.

Table Of Contents



  • Biometrics
  • Biometric Traits
  • The Structure of a Biometric System
  • The Biometric Process
    • Enrollment
    • Sampling
    • Matching
  • Applications of Matching
    • Verification
    • Identification
    • Screening
  • Measuring the Accuracy of Biometric Matching
    • The Base Rate Fallacy
  • Design Criteria Other Than Matching Accuracy
  • Recommendations
    • Get User Buy-In
    • Know What Application You're Implementing
    • Focus on the System, Not the Sensor
    • Understand the Statistics and Design the System Around Them
    • Pay Attention to Throughput
    • Control the Sensor Environment
    • Prefer Local and Attended Sensors
    • Design a Robust Backup System
    • Do Not Assume That Biometric Traits Are Secrets
    • Pay Attention to Presence and Liveness
    • Protect Communications Against Spoofing
    • Educate and Train the Users
    • Test Before Going Live

The Details

  • Biometric Modalities
  • Attacks on Biometric Systems
    • Attack Goals
    • Attack Points



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