Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Heathrow becomes biometric

The Heathrow airport is beginning to test an iris scan biometric machine to identify passengers at customs. Big Brother is not yet here and biometric passport are not yet mandatory... In fact passengers at Heathrow airport are being invited to take part in a trial of tech biometric scanning equipment which aims to make the travelling process easier by getting people through identity checks faster than ever before... All iris scan are record in a database, which will permit later to speed up the check of passenger... But the problem is how to be sure that this database will be safe, that information will not leak... Some people already sell data about others like address, phone number, gender, bank account number... So imagine what might happen with your biometric characteristics... Have you ever seen "Minority Report" and "Gattaca"? In Minority Report, all the shops use your iris to display targeted advertising... In Gattaca, even if there are plenty of biometric detector, one guy is able to fool all of them... This technology can be very useful but data have to be recorded carefully, maybe by using a fuzzy system... This time you don't record the biometric characteristic but a key c and the distance between c and your biometric characteristic x, which is name d. Now we use a fuzzy hash function: minor error leads to the same result, medium error produces a different hash. So in your database you have:
(h(c),d)
when you present your biometric characteristic, you compute: h(d+x') which has to match h(c) to be accepted...

The result is that you can change the secret if the database is compromise... It is maybe not the best method, as it requests a good function h but it is probably better than let the data on an untrusted server... Live and learn to see how this system will be broken...


2 comments:

wendell said...

Wasn't there a recent incident of staff (?) hacking into the new Home Office I.D. cards? Is this the same system or are the airports going into a different direction?

Anonymous said...

Nothing to hide, some people say. Well... this Cartoon shows why everybody has something to hide!

Greetings

Ben