Password This report investigates password and fingerprint

and Fingerprint Recognition Authentication Systems



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This report investigates password and fingerprint
authentication systems,




Table of
Abstract. 1
1.0 Introduction. 1
2.0 How the systems work. 1
2.1 How password
authentication systems work. 2
2.2 How fingerprint
recognition authentication systems work. 2
3.0 Security methods used
by the authentication systems for protecting its data. 2
3.1 Security methods used
by password authentication systems. 2
3.2 Security methods used
by fingerprint authentication systems. 3
4.0 Strengths and
weaknesses. 3
5.0 Potential attacks. 3

1.0 Introduction

The majority of the companies have physical
assets like expensive hardware and servers that contain confidential data of
their customers or employees, which are extremely valuable, not only for money
but also for legal issues. These assets should be available for access and
modification only from authorized persons like the system administrator, but
unfortunately that’s not always the case.

To protect their assets
and decrease the risk of human disaster threat, most companies use the two most
commonly used authentication systems, password and biometric.


2.0 How the systems work

The purpose of both password and fingerprint recognition authentication
systems is to determinate whether someone is in fact who is declared to be and
as a result allow logical or physical access to that person. To achieve their
goal, the systems use different authentication methods.


2.1 How password authentication systems work

The way password authentication systems work is by comparing
a given username or ID and a password with the corresponding credentials inside
a database that holds all authorized users and their password. With that
authentication method, password authentication systems have 100% chance of knowing
whether someone is a legitimate user or not.


2.2 How fingerprint recognition authentication systems

The very first time a user registers into a server by
fingerprint recognition authentication system, a procedure called enrolment
takes place, which translates illuminated images of the fingerprint into
digital code.

 After the enrolment is
complete, if the user wants to get logical or physical access to the server,
must scan their fingerprint again, then the verification procedure happens,
which uses a capacitive scanner that measures their finger electrically. When a
finger is pushed on a surface, the ridges in the fingerprint touch the surface
while the hollows between the ridges stand slightly clear of it.

A capacitive scanner builds up a picture of the fingerprint
by measuring these distances and then translates that picture into a digital
code which is finally compared with the previously stored sample. Even if this
comparison is happening in less than a second, there is no clear answer whether
a fingerprint scanned is the same as the one saved inside the database, but
only a percentage of similarity called authentication threshold of the two
samples in term of distance pattern, which is set by the system administrator.





3.0 Security
methods used by the authentication systems for protecting its data





Security methods used by password authentication systems


3.1.1 Hash                                                                                                                               Password authentication systems are not
saving passwords in the database as clear text but as an irreversible coded
form which is generated using hash algorithms like MD5, SHA-1, etc. Just using
hash algorithms is not enough for a password to be protected, because if two
users have the same password then the hash counterparts would be the same, and
as a result leaving the system more vulnerable to potential attacks. In
addition, if a hacker manages to break through a system he can use a
precomputed table which is reversing cryptographic hash functions named
“rainbow table”.

3.1.2 Salt

To fix this security vulnerability, a
computer random generated component called salt is added to the password before
is inputted into the hash algorithm, by doing that, every password in the
database is unique even if is identical to another. In addition, “salting” a hashed password increases the level of
complexity and ensures that any exposed confidential data will need many years
of work for extracting any usable passwords.




Security methods used by fingerprint authentication systems


3.2.1 FAR (False Acceptance Rate)

The false acceptance rate, or FAR, is the
measurement of a possibility that a biometric authentication system will falsely
allow logical or physical access to an unauthorized person. A system’s FAR is defined
as the ratio of the number of false acceptances divided by the number of
identification attempts. For example, if the FAR is 0.1 percent, on the average
two out of 2000 impostors attempting to breach a system will be successful. In
other words, the probability of an impostor being identified as an authorized person
is 0.1 percent. If a system administrator sets the FAR to the lowest
possibility he dramatically decreases the chance of a false acceptance into the








4.0 Strengths and weaknesses of each system

Not a single
authentication system in the world is completely secure, every system has its
own strengths and vulnerabilities. The right use of each system’s strengths can
overcome most of the vulnerabilities.


4.1 Strengths and
weaknesses of password authentication systems

The main strength that can be easily turned into a weakness
is the length of the password chosen by the user. A long password increases the
total number of combinations that a hacker must check to find any useful
information. For example, a 6-digit password can have 1,000,000 different
combinations. To even increase the different combinations that a 6-digit
password can have, different character types like uppercase letters, numbers
and symbols should be used.

Another advantage that password authentication systems have,
is the ability of a company to apply password policies that forces the employees
to use a “strong” password, for example:

characters long.

types of characters (uppercase, numbers, symbols).

change at regular intervals (every two months).

not share any password with another person or write them down on a publicly visible

system disables the account after several failed logon attempts.


From the other hand, password authentication systems carry a lot
of weaknesses. Many users take security lightly and choose “weak” passwords which
can be easily cracked or even guessed. If a company doesn’t apply password policies
then the employees might write their password on their desk or share it with a co-worker,
and as a result making the life easier of unauthorized people who want to damage
or steal from the system. In addition, the easiest way possible for a password to
be stolen is when is inputted into the system, that when an impostor can physically
see the password being typed and eventually steal it.


4.2 Strengths and
weaknesses of fingerprint recognition authentication systems




5.0 Potential attacks against the systems

































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