Thursday, December 28, 2017

Facial recognition tech to enhance security at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Photo of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Mascot candidates
Japanese students are currently voting on 2020 Olympic Mascot finalists

Facial recognition technology will be used at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to provide security and streamline the entry of athletes, officials, staff and news personnel to Olympic venues. Spectators won’t be subject to facial scanning, but their bags will be checked.

At the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, the identification of people entering the venues was manually checked against a registered ID photo on a monitor, but the process was relatively slow and led to delays and frustration.

The facial recognition technology to be used at the 2020 Olympics was developed by NEC Corp. In testing, the technology has been able to determine whether a person has had cosmetic surgery, and also to differentiate between identical twins. The screening process will move faster and be more secure.

Japan has previously tested facial recognition technology at the Japan House at the Rio 2016 games, and most recently in October 2017, screening passengers at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. 

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will run from July 24th through August 9th, followed by the Paralympics from August 25th through September 6th. The logistics are considerable. The total number of people requiring photo ID registration are expected to be 300,000 to 400,000.

By Kyodo News, Dec. 24, 2017, published online by The Japan Times News

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Do you own your digital identity? your biometric data?

Photo of friends texting

We regularly share more information online that we realize. We post on social media websites, we share our locations on our phones, and we share information when we play games or use apps. Even personal information that we assumed was private is not too difficult to uncover. With a little hacking, where we bank and the answers to our security questions can be revealed.

Google, Facebook and Twitter, among others, have set themselves up as “identity providers.” For example, if you click “Login using Facebook” on another website, you’re allowing Facebook to represent you online. You may not be aware that these companies are collecting and selling your data – and making a profit.

So who owns your digital identity? Right now, no one really does, including you. Currently there are no clear, accepted guidelines for digital identities. The European Union (EU) is developing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to give EU individuals more control over their private information. But until we have clearly defined, accepted standards for use and protection or our digital identities, no one will truly own their digital identity.

Do you own your biometric data? The answer here will put you at ease. Mobile devices that use your fingerprint or facial scan don’t actually use your biometric data for matching. A template is created when you register your fingerprint or facial scan, and that template is what is actually used for access. The actual biometric information does not get sent to any companies.

What about Apple or Google – companies that have access to your device for push notifications or security? No, they don’t have access to your biometric data. All the major players follow the accepted guidelines for security. Your biometric template data is encrypted (protected even from the manufacturer) and the actual biometric image is destroyed. The standalone template is useless if stolen. If your biometric information is securely encrypted and stored, your data is safe. You are in control of your biometric data.

Who Owns Your Identity?

By John Callahan, June 15, 2017, for Veridium | Identity

Who Owns Your Biometric Data?

By Ian E. Muller, Sept. 7, 2017, for Veridium | Data Privacy

Photo credit:  verkeorg

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Do fingerprint patterns change, making records outdated or inaccurate?

Photo of fingerprint match analysis example

In law enforcement, operational practice has shown that fingerprint patterns have remained extremely stable, so much so that it has been basically taken for granted that fingerprint patterns don’t change over time.

Research was conducted at Michigan State University (MSU) to test whether the traditional assumption was true. MSU Professor Anil Jain and former Ph.D. student Soweon Yoon analyzed the fingerprint records of 15,597 subjects apprehended by the Michigan State Police multiple times over a time span varying from 5 to 12 years.

The results are in. Per Profession Jain, “We have now determined, with multilevel statistical modeling, that fingerprint recognition accuracy remains stable over time.” 

Although fingerprints have been used by law enforcement and forensic experts to identify people for over 100 years, until now there has been little scientific research to support the accuracy of fingerprinting, leading to repeated court challenges over the years. It is good that a long held assumption has been tested, and even better, in this case, that the research supports many years of practical experience.

Stuck On You: Research Shows Fingerprint Accuracy Stays The Same Over Time

By Kim Ward, Anil Jain, June 29, 2015, MSU Today | Science & Technology

Research article  “Longitudinal study of fingerprint recognition” 

By Soweon Yoona and Anil K. Jain, pdf of the original article from the July 14, 2015 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

New research proves that fingerprint accuracy remains unchanged over time

By Justin Lee, June 30, 2015, for

Thursday, December 7, 2017

US Homeland Security Biometric Air Exit tracking to expand in 2018

Photo showing face recognition scanning of a woman's face.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been testing a Biometric Air Exit tracking program. CBP or its airline partners take photos of boarding international passengers for departure to confirm that each passenger is the true bearer of the travel visa. For privacy and personal data security, the facial images and their templates are deleted from the CBP system by the end of the flight. The data is deleted from the overall CBP IT system within 14 days.

Currently, trials are ongoing in five areas: Atlanta, Washington DC, Houston, Chicago and Las Vegas. In 2018, CBP will begin a widespread expansion of the program, working with stakeholders to get commitments needed to deploy the biometric exit technology.

Two main issues that have been delaying expansion have been resolved. One solution to greatly improve the efficiency of the process was to be able to query a temporary database of photos, instead of the complete federal database of photos, when checking the identity of the passengers. 

The other solution involved resolving the installation of a technology whose footprint didn’t fit the airline boarding gates. The CBP collaborated with the airlines to resolve the problem. The airlines developed a new interface so that a large system doesn’t have to be installed at the boarding gates.

The CBP expects to have Biometric Air Exit technology installed nationwide within four years. The next trials will involve expanding biometric exit technology to land ports of entry. Fingerprint biometric trials are expected to be in place by the end of 2017, with facial recognition trials to begin in 2018.

By Mark Rockwell, Nov. 28, 2017 for | Homeland Security
Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Portable new fingerprint & chemical forensic analysis tool to aid in fighting terrorism

Photo of a new fingerprint and chemical forensic analysis system
Photo Credit: ECBC, U.S. Army

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) researchers have created a powerful new fingerprint and chemical trace analysis tool that is fully automated and portable. The system was created for the U.S. Armed Forces’ fight against terrorism, but may well end up being used for airport security and law enforcement as well.

U.S. and Coalition forces investigating a possible insurgent for suspicion of planting an IED have often lacked enough evidence to detain a suspect with a fingerprint check. The additional proof needed is the detection of micro particles of bomb-making chemical components that get embedded between the grooves of the fingerprint.

The much needed chemical analysis is now possible in the field with the new Criminal Fingerprint Imaging System. The system is the size of a small room refrigerator. Fingerprints captured are sent electronically to the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System to check for a match.

The chemical testing is down with Raman spectroscopy. A laser light is shined on the fingerprint. The laser light interacts with the molecular vibrations of the substance residue, causing the laser light to shift slightly. The slight shift reveals the molecular bonds of the particles, leading to the identification of the molecules.

A person can run the automated system with minimal training. In 30 minutes, the fingerprint check and the analysis of up 100 micro-particles is complete.

Jason Guicheteau, PH.D., the lead research chemist for the team, says the team plans to reach out to commercial vendors in 2018 to build the Generation II system. The second generation system will be smaller, have more sensitivity on a greater range of explosives and narcotics, and work on curved surfaces, such as a can or water bottle. 

ECBC’s Chemical Fingerprint Imaging System Gives Warfighters and Law Enforcement a Powerful New Detection Tool

 Nov. 27, 2017 by ECBC Public Affairs | U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Amazon Go "grab & go" cashierless store nearly ready for opening

Photo of woman walking and enjoying pastry
Photo Credit: Amazon

Testing is going well at Amazon’s experimental cashierless convenience store in Seattle, Washington. Three imaginative employees decided to test the new technology by shopping in bright yellow Pikachu costumes, grabbing sandwiches, drinks and snacks. The technology was spot-on. The employees were recognized and their purchases were charged correctly.

Amazon’s Just Walk Out shopping experience uses a mobile app and smart technology similar to what powers self-driving cars, “computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning algorithms.” Shoppes scan their Amazon Go smartphone app as they enter. Cameras and shelf sensors keep track of purchases. Purchases are charged directly to the shopper’s Amazon account.

The technology is working well with single shoppers. Fine tuning is required for close groups in motion, like a family with a child that grabs a snack to eat while shopping. When couples shop together – who is the right person to be charged? Also, protocols are being developed for in-store returns, and other customer service issues.

There is no grand opening day announced yet for the store, but Amazon believes the no lines, no checkout, grab and go concept will catch on with consumers who have consistently been showing their love of convenience and saving time. 

As Amazon has recently acquired the Whole Food Market grocery chain, analysts are speculating that a version of Amazon Go will be rolled out to Whole Food stores. Amazon currently says no. A large grocery store with thousands of products is much more complex than a small 1,800 sq. ft. convenience store, but we'll see...

Amazon’s cashierless store is almost ready for prime time

By Olivia Zaleski and Spencer Soper,  Nov.15, 2017, for Bloomberg Technolog

Amazon Go Frequently Asked Questions

Thursday, November 9, 2017

One of FBI’s own honored with 2017 Women in Biometrics Award

Kim Del Greco, 2017 Woman in Biometrics Award Winner
Photo Credit: SecureIDNews

On Wednesday, Nov. 15th, at the Security Industry Association’s “SIA Honors Night,” the 2017 Women in Biometrics Awards will be presented. One of the honorees is the FBI’s own Kimberly Del Greco, Deputy Asst. Director of the Information Services Branch in the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division. 

“Law enforcement caught me at a young age. I care about keeping the country safe and contributing to that,” says Del Greco.

In 2006 Del Greco created the Biometric Center of Excellence to explore the use of new technologies from voice, iris and face biometrics to Rapid DNA (a fully automated process of developing a DNA profile from a sample). 

Her proudest accomplishment is her work on the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. Working closely with the law enforcement community, the team delivered a new fingerprint algorithm with increased hit rate efficiency and quality.

Kimberly feels her most significant contribution was the collaboration she forged with other government agencies and the intelligence community to share biometric information, including fingerprint records. She reflects, “That was probably the most significant, getting all the agencies to coordinate, collaborate and share our biometrics together. From there we were able to upgrade our system and share more critical records.”

Kimberly will be presented with a 2017 Women in Biometrics award along with four other distinguished biometrics award honorees, selected from a pool of over one hundred nominees. Congratulations, Kimberly! 

Women in Biometrics 2017 winner: Kimberly Del Greco, FBI

By Gina Jordan, Nov. 6, 2017, for SecureIDNews

Women in Biometrics 2017 Awards

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Almost 70% of shoppers open to paying with fingerprint biometrics

Photo of girlfriends shopping and comparing purchases

According to new research by Worldpay, 63% of consumers are open to paying for purchases using biometrics. Of those open to biometric payments, fingerprints are the most accepted form of biometrics. The survey results for types of biometric payments reveal:

  • 18% would feel comfortable with voice recognition
  • 24% would be comfortable with facial recognition
  • 33% would accept iris recognition
  • 69% would be open to fingerprint recognition

The results show growing consumer confidence in the security of biometric payments, but according to James Frost, chief marketing officer of Worldpay, convenience and faster checkout are driving consumer adoption of the new technologies more than anything else.

Customers surveyed are in favor of using technology to add value to the shopping experience, such as roaming staff that can allow customers to pay with a mobile card machine or other mobile device. Almost 70% who encountered this technology in shops said it allowed them a more personalized shopping experience, but only 31% had been offered the opportunity to pay this way.

In restaurants, 65% of respondents would be in favor of paying via a robot, rather than waiting on service staff. Almost 30% had used an app to get faster service in a restaurant. Of those who tried an app, 88% found it a positive experience. 

The study reflects a retail trend to an omni-channel (integrated) shopping experience. Whether a customer shops online by desktop or smartphone, by telephone, or in a brick and mortar store they desire a seamless, high quality shopping experience.

Almost 70% of customers willing to use fingerprint biometrics to shop

Clare McDonald, Oct. 24, 2017, for

Shoppers give thumbs up to in-store biometrics

Sept. 21, 2017, Media-Centre

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

6 states to test digital driver’s licenses in 2018

Prototype photo of an Iowa mobile drivers license mDL on a smartphone
Photo credit: IDEMIA

Six states will be testing the viability of digital (DDL) or mobile (mDL) driver’s licenses in 2018, led by the state of Iowa. Iowa has been pilot testing for a few years; mDLs and the technology to read them should available statewide next year. State officials hope the new technology will enhance safety for residents and law enforcement, achieve operational and cost efficiencies, and with good results, lead the way to widespread adoption.

Iowa's pilot testing started in 2015 and 2016 with a solution developed by IDEMIA. The security of the system will be protected by high level encryption, including facial recognition. Police officers can send a request for an mDL from a smartphone or a laptop in their vehicle to the subject’s smart phone. While system is rolling out in 2018, it is still considered under development.

Recognizing that driver’s licenses are used most often for identification outside of a vehicle, two states, Alabama and Arizona have partnered with IDEMIA to develop a more general electronic identity (eID) for identification, whether a person is a driver or not. Alabama is testing using an eID to secure state tax returns. Arizona is working on an online portal to give residents electronic access to vehicle title and ownership services, as well as driving knowledge tests.

Four states – Colorado, Idaho, Maryland and Wyoming – and Washington DC are testing a pilot smartphone-based DDL system based on digital security technology from Gemalto. Phase 1 testing is underway this year. Phase 2 testing begins in 2018. Other uses being considered for DDL ID include buying alcohol, purchasing lottery tickets, retail shopping and clearing airport security.

While other states are sure to join in DDL/mDL testing, paper and plastic driver’s licenses will be still around for many years to come. However, the convenience of using a smartphone for purchases and ID is already widely supported by smartphone users. It’s most likely a question of when, and not if this technology will be accepted. Similar trials are also taking place worldwide, from Europe to Asia to the South African development community.

By Theo Douglas, Oct. 20, 2017, for Government Technology online (

Friday, October 20, 2017

How a convicted murderer slipped past group home background checks

Cropped photo of a criminal background check form

In New Jersey, nearly 8% of workers hired to care for the developmentally disabled evaded a state law requiring they undergo a criminal background check. Some applicants who were flagged with a criminal record got hired anyway.

New Jersey state law leaves the hiring decisions up to the group home or supervised housing provider, who can decide if an applicant has demonstrated “clear and convincing evidence of… rehabilitation.” This practice allowed one housing provider to hire a paroled convicted murderer. When auditors pointed out the worker’s criminal record, the employer called it an “oversight” and fired the worker. 

A recent report submitted by State Auditor Stephen M. Eells and Asst. Auditor John Termyna says that legislative changes may be needed. 

Among the report findings, 

  • 175 of 2,340 employees (7.5%) did not have a record of a background check in their file
  • Of 47,700 workers in group homes, supervised apartments and community care facilites, 4,087 (8.5%) had committed a state crime. 
  • In a random check of the files of 147 active employees, 19 were found to have criminal histories that could be disqualifying, including drug and assault offenses. 40 of the files didn’t contain enough information to make a determination.
  • In a review of Federal background checks, 72 of 53,200 had a serious disqualifying offense such as armed robbery or murder. One of the 72 was the convicted murderer hired as an oversight, above. 

People with developmental disabilities may rely on staff for everything from basic care – help with feeding, dressing and bathing – to transportation to and back from jobs and social programs. The pay is low and the turnover is high. Advocacy groups have made it a goal to have the starting wage raised to attract more qualified workers.

The report from the State Auditor’s Office states that better monitoring of residential programs is needed to prevent employment of workers with disqualifying criminal background histories. It’s important that state and federal background checks to be done on those who work with disabled individuals, and that the residential programs are in compliance with the handling of background checks when hiring employees.

How a convicted murderer (and others) slipped past group home background checks

By Susan K. Livio, posted on Oct. 18, 2017,

Report: Department of Human Services Licensed Residential Programs Serving Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

New Jersey State Legislature Office of Legislative Services Office of the State Auditor,
July 1, 2012 to April 30, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

New fingerprint test reveals surprising details

Photo of mass spectrometry fingerprint test
Photo Credit: BBC News

A new fingerprint test using mass spectrometry can detect a wealth of surprising new information from a fingerprint, including...

  • The sex of the person that left the print
  • What food or drink they may have consumed
  • Whether they’ve taken drugs
  • Whether they’ve touched blood
  • Whether they’ve touched cleaning products or cosmetics
  • Whether they’ve touched a condom – and even what brand

Your fingerprint contains molecules from your body and molecules from what you’ve touched. In mass spectrometry, a sample from a fingerprint is vaporized and fired through electric and magnetic fields. The particles of different mass react differently. The results are compared to known substances, and the team is able to identify the molecules within the print.  

This technology has been able to detect blood in 30 year old fingerprints which means it could be valuable in helping to solve cold cases. The research by teams from Sheffield Hallam University working with the West Yorkshire, UK Police has been ongoing since 2012. The new testing is expensive, but is expected to start being used in high profile cases within months.

October 10, 2017 published by BBC News | Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Thursday, October 5, 2017

US reviewing alternate solutions to using Social Security Number as ID

Photo of old Social Security cards

Photo credit: zimmytws/Bigstock

Rob Joyce, White House cybersecurity coordinator, has confirmed recently that the White House administration is consulting with officials from outside agencies to work out a better system for identifying Americans. The recent breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s top 3 firms collecting data for credit card applications, underscores the need for change.

When the Social Security Number system was created by the Social Security Administration in 1936, it was intended solely for keeping track of individual earnings. Due to convenience, SSNs were quickly adopted by the private sector. Now they’re used for everything from loans and purchases, to marriage licenses, job applications, medical forms and more. They are so widely distributed, they can hardly be considered private, and are highly susceptible to hacking.

Social Security Numbers are not hard for a determined hacker to decode. The first 3 digits are a geographical code for the area you lived when you registered. Your birth date is also used when creating your number. If there’s one piece of information that is more widely distributed than your SSN, it’s your birthday. With your location and birthday, your SSN becomes relatively easy to figure out.

Social Security numbers are difficult to get replaced. To replace it you would have to show proof of continued harassment, and have documentation to prove your identity You can’t have it changed just as a precaution. Actual biometric scan data also can’t be changed. Many are concerned that this information could also be stolen from the agency storing it.

So what’s the best solution? Rob Joyce told a forum at the Washington Post that the administration is considering “modern cryptographic identifiers.” This may involve “a public and private key,” and the ability to get a new identifier if one has been compromised. In addition, we may end up having more than one identifier, specific customer ID’s for different purposes, which would allow Americans more control over their data.

By AFP on Oct. 03, 2017, Security Week

By Hayley Tsukayama, Sept. 20, 2017, The Washington Post