Feeds

Border agencies prep for multi-modal biometrics

Iris, fingers, head, shoulders, knees and toes

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The UK, Europe and the US are planning to belt and brace their border databases by using multiple forms of biometrics to identify people.

While a set of fingerprints might be considered enough to tell one person from another, the trio expect to be eventually back this up with iris scans and mug shots.

Frank Paul, head of large-scale IT systems at the European Commission's directorate of Justice, Freedom and Security, said the move was necessary so the countries' border systems could talk to one another.

The trio have been trying to find a way to make their databases compatible so they can inform one another about suspected criminals and terrorists they want to catch and immigrants they want to keep out. But they have failed to co-ordinate their efforts so far.

"There'll never be a situation where the world will agree to have one biometric," said Paul at a Homeland Security Conference in Brussels yesterday. "What we will have is a multi-modal environment."

The aim is not just to share border intelligence, but to co-ordinate immigration processes. Their strategic approaches are already the same: immigration systems in Europe and the US are beginning to categorize people according to the level of risk they pose to state and civil security. Those people who hand over their biometrics and pass all the background checks are allowed to join fast-track schemes such as the UK's Iris.

P.T. Wright, deputy director of the US Department of Homeland Security's US Visit biometric immigration scheme, said that multi-model biometrics might also allow a person registering for fast-track travel clearance in the UK to apply for similar clearance in another country at the same time.

The US prefers fingerprints, he said, but was designing its systems to handle all biometrics. The UK is considering the same.

Marek Rejman Greene, senior biometrics advisor of the UK Home Office's scientific development branch, said: "We're looking at multi-modal biometrics to identify people at the border. We're looking very closely at some of the research."

Even the FBI is redesigning its fingerprint database - the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) - to handle facial images and iris scans. But the ultimate aim is to create more powerful law-enforcement systems, for which inter-operating with the databases of other agencies and countries is integral.

The EU's security strategy also clearly states a desire to link the means of "external security" with "civil security", which would require the means to share information between civil and immigration databases.

Pat Abrahamsen, strategy and development manager for the Iris system at the Home Office's e-Borders agency, said a limited initial budget had excluded other biometrics and links to police databases from its remit. It was designed merely as as a way of taking people with a biometrically pre-qualified immigration entitlement out of immigration queues.

But its future was being reconsidered as part of a redesign, which was in its procurement round, she said.

"We are unsure where Iris will go," said Abrahamsen. "Does it move into something else?

"We do background checks - not fingerprint checks - but maybe in the future," she said. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.