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From bank accounts to personal profiles, passwords have become the default option for verifying a user’s identity. In fact, many of us are so inundated with passwords, both at our jobs and in our personal lives, that we face a disturbing set of choices: Record all passwords on paper, use “basic” passwords that we’ll remember easily or use the same password for everything. (None of which is optimally secure.)

Then there’s the annoying “password maintenance,” in which password-protected systems hound us to come up with yet another set of characters. But while businesses, governments and organizations are working to make sure that traditional password systems remain strong and secure, a new kind of digital authentication is coming – one that may solve these problems altogether. New biometric identification programs are getting a lot of attention these days. And for good reason – they may just drive future commerce and civic life.

What is Biometrics?

The definition of biometrics might seem simple, but a technical description is actually a little involved. While biometrics just refers to the collection of any kind of information about any biological organism or system, the term has come to be used almost exclusively for specific kinds of programs within many parts of the IT world. These programs use data about humans to identify specific individuals. They are used for various kinds of security in different applications. To make things more clear, most of us agree to restrict discussions about biometrics to these kinds of projects.

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