Biometric Door Control Misconceptions

Do You Believe Facial Recognition Readers Store Your Picture?

Biometic reader and flat-disc world

There are many misconceptions about science and technology. One of the misconceptions is that biometric IP door readers store a picture of your fingerprint or face. Another one is that the Earth is a flat disc that rests on top of four elephants, on top of a turtle*.

For clarity, biometric door readers do not store a picture of your fingerprint or face, and the Earth is not flat. This article describes the technology behind biometric door readers.

We are all sensitive to information being gathered about us. Privacy is very important. We do not like the government or even the organization we work for knowing all about us. With all the hacks going on, who would not be worried about our fingerprint getting stolen.  However, do not worry. This is one of those misconceptions.  Your fingerprint cannot be stolen from today’s biometric readers.

Instead of storing a picture of our actual fingerprint or face, the biometric readers captures only a small subset of data and then convert these minutiae points to encrypted binary data.  The code can only be retrieved using a mathematical algorithm that has no physical relationship to the biometric.

Biometric door reader facial encoding diagram
Biometric door reader facial encoding diagram

The sensors are very accurate and impossible to deceive. The readers include integrated security components that make them safe from hacking.

Special algorithms optimize the capture process. This reduces the false rejection rate. The fingerprint scanner uses subsurface multispectral imaging technology to see beneath the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) and view the live layer of the skin (dermis) where the true fingerprint resides.  This means that conditions on the outer skin’s surface (such as calluses, dryness, dirt or contaminants, moisture, or the effects of aging) do not limit the ability of the sensor to capture fingerprint minutiae data. The latest scanners include anti-spoofing technology that rejects a fake fingerprint. The reader detects the live finger rather than a rubber mold or other fake fingerprint. To learn more, take a look at our video, “How Biometric Readers Work.”

What happens if the biometric doesn’t work? The latest readers have other modes of entry besides the biometrics. They can use a credential if their biometric doesn’t work.  Just remember that a biometric is much more secure than an RFID credential. The fingerprint identifies the person and not the card that they carry. You can also use dual authentication. A person can carry a credential and also require that their face match the credential applied.

There are various levels of security provided by door access control systems. Door readers that just require a PIN number are the least secure.   It is difficult to control pin numbers when people change. For example, if a person no longer works at the facility, all the numbers may have to be changed. Door readers that use credentials such as cards are much safer, but the cards can be copied or stolen.  The most secure level of security is provided by a door access control that identifies the person.  For more about the various levels of security, take a look at our article, “Comparison of Security Provided by Door Access Systems.”

Another misconception is that network attached biometric readers are much more expensive than RFID IP readers.  In reality, all this great new technology is about the same price as some of the IP RFID door readers.  Biometrics is becoming the new standard for door access control. The world is not flat, and biometric readers maintain our privacy. They are safe and more secure than RFID door readers.

*Note, in the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, the world is described as a disc, resting on the top of four elephants who, in turn, stand on the back of a giant space-faring turtle.

Contact us to learn more about the biometric door readers. We can be reached at 800-431-1658 in the USA, or at 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.