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Biometric Authentication A

case study in security

1 / 7 / 2 0 1 3
By Dami l ol a Yus uph


Given the highly classified environment that MOD operates in, where security is upmost concern, a
strong security and identity mechanism will be paramount to the effectiveness and efficiency of
MODs operations. A dedicated biometric solution in this given context is arguably the most suitable
solution that meets the security demands of the MOD operations. This is because this type of
authentication is based on a unique intrinsic physical and behavioural trait of an individual such as
Iris, Fingerprint, Retina, which cannot be borrowed, forgotten or stolen and forging is impractically
impossible(Taneja and Sonika, 2011) unlike traditional authentication mechanisms such as
passwords, PINS or tokens which are unreliable and easily circumvented(Kizza, 2009). It provides a
reliable and accurate means of identifying an individual and can safeguard military facility by
enabling base access for only authorized personnel with an exceptionally degree of certainty while
also preventing interference with critical systems. By having a dedicated biometric solution, MOD
will massively reduce the amount of time needed to conduct personnels identity check thereby
increasing speed of entry, help strip away anonymity and determine identity thus mitigating risks,
help prevent hostile infiltration by rendering strong proof of identity for users and will ensure the
accountability of Mods personnel activities.
Role based Authentication
Role based access control is an approach to restrict system access to unauthorized users. With RBAC
authentication, decisions are based on roles rather than the identity of the user whereby
permissions are associated with roles and users are assigned with their befitting roles (Kugblenu,
2007). A key advantage of RBAC is that it reduces the complexity and potential for error when
administering access rights. This is because roles can be updated without having to explicitly update
privilege for each user on an individual basis (Hemstra, 2010)
Furthermore, administrators are provided with the capability to enforce security policy at a more
fine-grained level using separation of duties and least privilege principles(Northcutt, 2010). Least
Privilege requires that a user be given no more privilege than necessary to a job assigned. By
doing this, improper use of access of rights is less likely to occur however, in less precisely controlled
systems, this is often difficult or costly to achieve. Separation of duties entails that a user should not
be able to effect security breach through dual privilege. This helps prevent fraud and exerts better
quality controls.
Additionally, roles can have overlapping functions meaning users belonging to different roles may
need to perform shared operations. In this situation, role hierarchies and Core RBAC can be
established to provide for an organization's structure; this allows some roles to inherit permission
from others. Role based access control approaches security needs from an integrity first
confidentiality second and may be unsuitable to implement in an environment with highly sensitive

Mandatory Access Control as defined by (TECHTOPIA) constraints the interaction of users to a
resource on the basis of security labels and classification of individuals and resources to this labels.
Typically, administrators enforce organisational security policies independent of user operations and
compliance thus users are in no control of access decisions. MAC mechanism assigns a security label
to all resource and security clearance to each user so to get access to given resource; the users
clearance level must be equal or greater than the resource classification. A key advantage of MAC is
it is not susceptible to attack because right to resources is left exclusively to the system and users
cannot declassify information enabling a greater level of protection. This model is commonly used in
to protect data that is secret and confidential against exposure.
Discretional Access control restricts access to resources based on the identity of the requesting
user. DAC mechanism typically works by permitting users to allow or disallow other users access to
resources under their control. Typically, this is done using access control lists where permissions are
assigned to a user for a given resource. A key advantage of DAC is that it allows great flexibility for
the users however, allowing users to exert control over who can access a resource can compromise
integrity and opens a vast amount of ways in which a system can be due to abuse, accidents or
misconfiguration (Hakan, 2006)
MAC and DAC authentication can be distinguished from Rule based authentication primarily in the
way permissions are handled; access to a resource is allowed or disallowed based on a firm set of
rules defined by the system administrator e.g. permitting access for a group to a network connection
at certain days of the week.


According to BIO-GUARD, the underlying technology of palm biometrics works by extracting features
from the palm such as wrinkles, principal lines, ridges and using a near light infrared to map out
veins patterns for recognition. The palm area has a larger and more complex vascular pattern thus
contains a wealth of distinctive features that makes it a powerful personal identifying factor.
Additionally, patterns in the palm are individually distinct and line structures remains stable and
largely unchanged throughout ones life. (Farkhod & Debnath, 2010 )
Fujistu, an innovative pioneer, asserts that the complexity of the vein patterns and other
subcutaneous features in the palm are largely hidden inside the human body and very difficult to
replicate, thus attempts to forge an identity will be virtually impossible enabling a high level of
authentication accuracy. Another key strength of palm biometrics e.g. vein is that its effectiveness is
not impacted by common skin surface issues that affects the integrity of fingerprint like scarring,
roughness, skin injuries, moisture, or certain age and ethnic demography(Wong, Lai. Lee, & Shum
2010) because it lies untouched and unchanged beneath the skin surface therefore demonstrates a
high tolerance. Furthermore, the palm sensor incorporates liveness detection meaning vein patterns
will only be detected if blood vessels is actively flowing within the individual hence the palm vein
itself acts as a key to utilise the stored template database. [Prasanalakshmi, Sridevi &Kannamma,
2011] This eliminates the risk associated with recreating someones biometric template rendering a
strong forgery protection.
From a detection and access standpoint, palm biometrics boasts enhanced recognition accuracy and
strong resistance to spoofing attacks than current biometric technologies. For instance, fingerprints
left on the sensors surface can be copied for illegitimate use, aging, gesture and pose could affect
facial recognition systems while voice biometric can be recorded and duplicated. (Farkhod &
Debnath, 2010) Furthermore, a recent research conducted by Black Hat security revealed that iris
scanners, generally presumed to be foolproof is susceptible to attacks; reverse engineered iris codes
used to create synthetic images tricked an iris-recognition system into thinking they were
authentic(Javier, 2012). Veins, however reside within the body and do not transfer on touch.
Although, Palm biometrics is not without its weaknesses; A number of natural factor can directly
affect the quality of captured image namely, caliberation, heat radiation, and unequal
distribution(Wong et al. 2010) In addition, palm matching techniques - Minutiae-based are known
to produce low quality images while correlation based shows intolerance to translational variances,
image noise and elastic (Foroosh, Shekarforoush, Josiane & Zerubia, 2012 ) On the other hand,
Ridge-based techniques are believed to be unstable and gives lower uniqueness( Kekre, Sudeep,
Thepade, & Varun, 2010).
In reference to research studies, there are enough indicators to ascertain that palm biometrics
enhances reliability and provides a higher level of security. This is due to the unique aspects that set
it apart from current forms of biometrics. It can be said the MOD will benefit from the palm
biometrics through enhanced reliability and strong security. Preferred techniques will be palm vein
biometrics because it is not affected by the limitations of other biometric traits related to measuring
external features thus making it robust.

In many biometrics authentication systems, biometric templates defined as a digital representations
of distinct characteristics that summaries the biometric data of an individual(Sutcu, Li & Memon,
2009) are often stored in a central database. During the authentication phase, new measurement of
the same biometrics is taken and then matched against the corresponding template to guarantee
sufficient similarity to that of the claimed identity. Unfortunately, this method is not tamper proof
and therefore is susceptible to hacker attack aimed at undermining the integrity of the
authentication process (Jan, Nanadukumar & Nagar 2007)
Recent studies have shown that hill-climbing attacks on biometric template are able to recover
original raw data from biometric template. (Gudavalli, Raju & Kumar, 2012) Another form of attack
called replay attacks obtains an authentic users biometrics data, and then transmits this data to the
biometric system posing as that user (Jan et all, 2007) This poses a major security risk to the integrity
of MODs biometric data because once a template has been compromised, it cannot be recovered,
changed, or reissued (Michael, Cambier, John, Moore, & Scott, 2009). In this situation, an adversary
may impersonate a legitimate user to carry out malicious actions.
The limitations in the biometric template security and revocability have brought about different
approaches to solve the problem. On approach is called Template free encryption, this is a biometric
data where templates not stored instead, the features of a biometric data sample is used to
generate encryption keys and to decrypt it, a further biometric sample will be required to generate
the required private key since it is uniquely associated with the given biometric sample. This will
provide strong and secure authentication For the MOD because no physical record of the key exist
therefore confidential data cannot be tampered with via unauthorised access to the key. Also, it
vastly increases the security of the biometric system eliminating the need for storing biometric
template which is susceptible to attack.
Combining cryptography with biometric data is another alternative, this works by generating a key
from a users iris image using auxiliary error correction rate which does not reveal the key; it is
subsequently saved on a tamper proof smart card so reproduction of the keys will solely depend on
the iris biometric and the smart card. To compromise the key, an attacker will have to procure the
smart card and the iris biometric.(Feng & Ross, 2009 }
BIO-keys can also be substituted for a biometric template, this extracts biometrics sample using
statistical features that is then compared with a threshold as a means to generate key-bit. These
statistical features are then cascaded onto the key bit to compute an encryption. One problem area
of this approach is that the features space is restricted due to the modelling of the ineruser and
intral in the biometric representations therefore users will be separated since it relies on the
restricted solution of a single feature to generate bio keys of consistent single features (Zhang &
chen, 2008)


According to (NIST), securing information and systems against the full spectrum of threats and
unauthorized access is very crucial in order to upkeep the confidentiality, integrity and availability of
data and resources. Implementing a firewall will prevent an outsider from accessing MODs network
resource and this will help enhance security between the MODs network and the internet. At the
application level, this will help filter incoming and outgoing data in order to protect MODs network
from unauthorized access, and at the packet level, it will be used to deny or allowed access to an
identified IP address. This is necessary to guard against malicious programs that masquerade as a
legitimate one such as Trojans which is known to send personal information and can impact the
confidentiality of data. Firewall rules could also be applied in order to help protect the network
against IP spoofing.
MOD deals with highly sensitive information and database on a daily basis therefore to help protect
data from being inappropriately accessed, altered and modified; Anti-virus software will be
installed on the computers and servers. This is paramount as it will help protect MODs computer
hardware, network and data. Virus, worms, malwares, adware, rouge security software are just a
few examples of malicious programs that can delete critical files, slow processing speed and even in
worst case cause irreparable physical damage. Therefore to counter this, it is essential to do
periodically update to get the latest definitions.
MODs Information systems and data could be susceptible to attacks therefore intrusion detection
system would be put in place, This would play an important role in adding a degree of integrity to
MODs network; this will help monitor network, system activities for policy violations or malicious
activities monitor. It would also ensure file system integrity This could help identify problems with
Mods security policy and also document existing threat, Also, regular and consistent software
patching procedures should be in place as this usually contain fixes to potential security concerns.
Hackers can exploit bugs and loopholes in a system if periodic updates of critical application are not
in place. In addition, highly classified data would be encrypted to prevent disclosure. User training
and awareness about the risk of data compromise is an important security measure as this will
ensure users are aware of their responsibilities and how to go about preventing and responding in
the event of data compromise.


1. Taneja, Amit. (2011). Journal of Global Research in Computer Science 2.7: Pattern
Recognization using Neural Network of Hand Biometrics. PP 71-78

2. Kizza, Joseph Migga. (2009). Authentication: A Guide to Computer Network Security pp 207-
3. Kugbulenu, Francis. (2007) Separation of Duty in Role Based Access Control System: A Case

4. Hiemstra, J, n.d. CompTIA Security+ TechNotes - Access Control [Online] Available from: [Accessed

5. Northcutt, S. (2007). Role Based Access Control to Achieve Defence in Depth. [Online]
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6. TECHTOPIA : Mandatory, Discretionary, Role and Rule Based Control. [Online] Available
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7. Hakan Lindqvist. (2006). Mandatory Access Control.

8. Farkhad. Ishani, Debnath. (2010). BIO-GUARD Palm vein authentication review.

9. Kenneth Wong, Thomson Lai. Bosco Lee, Frankie Shum. (2010). Analysis of Palm Vein
Biometric system.

10. B.Prasanalakshmi, A.Kannammal, R.Sridevi. (2011). Multimodal Biometric Crypto system
Involving Face, Fingerprint and Palm Vein Analysis of Palm Vein Biometric system.

11. Javier Gallbaly. (2012). Biometrics: Eye Scanners Can Be Fooled [Online] Available from: [Accessed

12. Hassan Foroosh, Shekarforoush, Josiane B. Zerubia. (2012). Extension of Phase Correlation to
Subpixel Registration

13. H.B Kekre, Sudeep D Thepade, Ashish Varun (2010). Performance Comparison Of Image
Transforms For Palm Print Recognition With Facial Coefficient Of trransformed Palm Print

14. Yagiz Sutcu, Quimming Li & Nasir Memon,.(2009) : How to protect Biometrics Templates

15. Anil K. Jain, Karthik Nandakumar, & Abhishek Naga. (2007) : Biometric Template Security

16. Madhavi Gudavalli , Dr. S. Viswanadha Raju (2012) : HUMAN RECOGNITION USING FUSED

17. Michael Braithwaite, Ulf Cahn von Seelen, James Cambier, John Daugman, Randy Glass,
Russ Moore, Ian Scott. (2010) : Application-Specific Biometric Templates

18. Jianjiang Feng, Anil K. Jain, and Arun Ross (2009): Fingerprint Alteration

19. Wende Zhang and Tsuhan Chen. (2009): GENERALIZED OPTIMAL THRESHOLDING FOR