THE GUTS OF THE SYSTEM
Technology & terminology in the secure airport.
The system of verifying that you are who you claim to be, whether you're trying to board a plane or gain access to a computer network. The most secure authentication techniques today rely on a combination of biometrics, passwords, and data-rich identity tokens such as a smart card. Authentication is a key to security systems, but of course can't guarantee that an authenticated person has good intentions.
The science of measuring characteristics unique to each individual (such as fingerprints, facial appearance, voice patterns, striations on the iris, or the arrangement of veins on the retinal wall of the eye), converting them into digital form, and analyzing them. In security zones, these identifiers are usually compared against a database of suspected and known criminals or terrorists. Only retinal and iris scans approach 100 percent accuracy.
A collection of digitized information, such as names, numbers, pictures, or text, that can be searched for specific groups of data, such as birth city and date. Currently there is no national database of U.S. residents; state driver's license databases are not integrated; and there is opposition to creating such a database. As stories about FBI performance before and after 9/11 indicate, the quality of terrorist and criminal databases and related technology at law enforcement agencies is not as robust as it should be.
A biometric that measures the unique furrows, wrinkles, and cracks in the iris, the muscular part of the eye that surrounds the pupil. No two irises are identical, making this biometric nearly 100 percent accurate. A digital image of the iris is captured, and numbers are assigned to more than 250 distinct points on the iris. Because the process isn't as fast or convenient as facial recognition, it will most likely be used in airports as a secondary security check and for travelers passing through customs.
Techniques for scrambling transmitted data so that only the sender and the intended recipient can read it. This is usually accomplished by systematically modifying data according to a set of rules called a key. Only computers with the right key can unscramble the data. Encryption is commonly used for everything from credit card transactions to satellite communications. In airports, it would keep hackers from reading the information traveling across the facility's security network.
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