|James Bond Technology Makes Passwords Obsolete |
James Bond Technology Makes Passwords Obsolete
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. -- April 26, 2001 (AFPN) -- James Bond gained access to Q's sensitive offices by putting his palm to a reader. A sexy voice said, "Hello, Commander Bond," and the door opened.
You never saw James Bond trying to remember a password. And if the Defense Department's biometrics research efforts work, you will not have to either.
Biometrics is the name for security technologies that measure a person's physical characteristics to determine access authorization. With these technologies, fingerprints fingerprints, iris scans, retina scans, the shape of a face, or voice prints can be used for individual identification.
Security is the main reason the biometrics management office is charged with bringing biometrics to the department.
"If we look at the way hackers are penetrating our systems, we find that it's usually password-related," said Philip Loranger, head of the office.
Passwords are either too easy to crack or are not being used. "If we make security easier to the users, which is the intent behind biometrics, then those things go away," he said.
The office has two pilot projects. One is with the West Virginia National Guard and tests how the program works with information technology. The other is with Army Materiel Command and deals with physical security.
The services, too, are testing biometrics. The Army Lab Command in Adelphi, Md., is studying ways to control access into all DOD labs. The lab is looking at iris recognition and facial recognition, said project manager Hal Harrelson, an engineer at the lab.
"We've just finished a six-month test of iris recognition, and we'll start the facial recognition test in July," Harrelson said.
Iris recognition works by taking a picture of a person's eye and comparing it against a picture taken earlier. It's highly reliable and face recognition works much the same way, Harrelson said.
DOD may use these technologies not only in information technology systems, but in weapon platforms and weapon systems, Loranger said.
"Imagine ... biometric access to the motor pool and motor park," he said. "These things are all doable. It's a matter of lining up the infrastructure to start implementing that."
The DOD office partners with industry, but there are some unique aspects to the military.
"The commercial world is not too interested in whether the presenter is alive or dead," Loranger said. "The last thing we want is to field a technology that would harm a warfighter, such as cause fingers to be cut off and presented as an access mechanism."
The DOD office is working with vendors to ensure there is a "liveness" test with biometrics.