August 26, 2021
By Shaun Waterman
A facial recognition tablet takes a photo of a passenger boarding an international flight during the Sept 2018 launch of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection biometric exit pilot at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. U.S. CBP Photo by Glenn Fawcett

The best facial recognition systems work very well matching people of all races to their file photographs when tested in a real-world scenario, but when the volunteer subjects were wearing face masks, even the better performing systems showed increased racial disparities in performance, Department of Homeland Security officials told AFCEA’s 2021 Federal Identity Forum and Expo Tuesday.

August 25, 2021
By Shaun Waterman
A soldier dons the Capability Set 3 (CS 3) militarized form factor prototype of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) during a Soldier Touchpoint 3 live fire test event at Fort Pickett, Virginia, in October 2020. U.S. Army photo by Courtney Bacon

As the strategic focus of the U.S. military shifts away from the counterinsurgency operations of the war on terror and toward great power competition, so the focus of its biometrics programs is changing as well, Defense Department officials told AFCEA’s 2021 Federal Identity Forum and Expo Tuesday.

August 23, 2021
By Shaun Waterman
Two people demonstrate how a device is used to capture imagery of irises for the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Iris Service. Credit: FBI

The FBI has been running a full-scale iris-print ID service as part of its Next Generation Identification, or NGI, system for almost a year now, Douglas Sprouse, a management and program analyst with the bureau’s Biometric Services Section told the 2021 Federal Identity Forum and Expo Monday.

May 26, 2021
By George I. Seffers
An IARPA project may one day allow whole-body biometric identification from long range, such as from unmanned aerial vehicles. Credit: Oleg Yarko/Shutterstock

The U.S. intelligence community is embracing a number of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, biotechnologies, advanced materials and advanced communication systems, officials from the Office of the Director of Intelligence (ODNI) told the audience at AFCEA’s virtual Spring Intelligence Symposium, held May 25-27.

January 5, 2021
Posted by: George I. Seffers
Biometrics systems tested by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate effectively identify most individuals even when they wear face masks. Credit: SergeyTinyakov/Shutterstock

A controlled scenario test by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) shows promising results for facial recognition technologies to accurately identify individuals wearing protective face masks, according to an S&T press release.

The tests were conducted as part of S&T’s 2020 Biometric Technology Rally, held this fall at the Maryland Test Facility, and could reduce the need for people to remove masks at airports or ports of entry.

September 9, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Credit: Shutterstock/MONOPOLY919

The accuracy of machines relative to human performance in facial recognition has naturally increased with the computational abilities of machines and employment of advanced algorithms, compared to 10 years ago, according to Alice O'Toole, professor at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas).

September 8, 2020
By George I. Seffers
FBI officials indicate the bureau's next-generation iris recognition system could be fully operational by October. Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

The FBI’s pilot iris recognition program initiated in 2013 will likely be fully operational this fall, possibly by October 1. The agency also is developing tools to detect fingerprints that have been deliberately mutilated and a scanner large enough to get a print of the entire palm along with all five fingerprints.

September 8, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Money laundering and other crimes have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the need for more widespread use of identity verification and management technologies, government officials say. Credit: stevepb/Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the federal government’s need for better identity verification and management tools, in part to ensure relief funds go to the people who need them.

Gay Gilbert, administrator, Office of Unemployment Insurance, Department of Labor, told the audience for the FedID Virtual Collaboration Event today that the department was hit with a pandemic-induced perfect storm. “For those of you who have been watching the news, probably you’ve noticed that the unemployment insurance program has become a key—a little bit of a hotbed, actually, with regard to COVID-19,” she said.

July 15, 2020
By Rachel Lilly
Policy makers face challenges including false information, poor implementation and strong emotions when it comes to biometrics.

Efforts to produce evidence-driven, equitable and outcome-focused policies for biometric technology have been impeded by a lack of in-depth knowledge, poor implementations, false information and emotions running high.

February 1, 2020
By Shaun Waterman
Spc. Damaris Vazquez, USA, an orderly room clerk with 90th Human Resources Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, Fort Stewart, Georgia, scans a common access card at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to process soldiers in units assisting with Hurricane Florence relief efforts. Credit: Sgt. Elizabeth White, USA/Released

The Pentagon is looking to buy an enterprisewide identity management system to provide a single authoritative source of user information, identity authentication and information technology access for millions of U.S. Defense Department computer network users. The Defense Information Systems Agency’s call for white papers on the development and deployment of a Defense Department Enterprise Identity Service is the first step in identifying two or three vendors to take part in a competitive prototyping contest under an other transaction authority effort.

October 7, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
Sandia National Laboratories is pursuing a heartbeat-based technology for a security application. Credit: Shutterstock/LuckyStep

Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico is testing security applications that depend on a user’s heartbeat. Under a recently signed Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), Albuquerque-based Aquila Inc. will create and test a wearable prototype that issues a real-time identifying signature based on the electrical activity of the user’s heart, according to a report from Sandia.

The electrocardiogram signals are sent from the wearable technology—which could be a wristband or a chest strap—to identify a person and grant them access to facilities or other security applications. 

September 11, 2019
Computer scientists at the U.S. Army¹s Combat Capabilities Development Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground are working on biometric software systems to combat so-called "deepfake" or bogus media. Credit: Shutterstock/meyer_solutions

At the Combat Capabilities Development Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, researchers in the Science and Technology Directorate are working to meet a joint urgent operational needs statement regarding biometric dominance. The directorate’s Intelligence Systems and Processing Division is creating two biometric systems, called VICE and VIBES, to protect warfighters as well as discern media fakes, explained Keith Riser, computer scientist, Intelligence Systems and Processing Division, Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate. 

July 11, 2019
 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security takes a closer look at how the government is using biometrics in protecting the nation. Credit: Shutterstock/Andrea Izzotti

The current climate surrounding the identification of citizens and deportation of noncitizens is fiery at best. And while facial recognition and other biometric technologies offer the government advanced tools to protect the homeland, some critics, including lawmakers, are sounding the alarm on how agencies are using identification data and whether citizens' privacy rights are being protected.

June 20, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The Department of Homeland Security is reaching out to the private sector for ideas about advanced cloud-based biometric technology for immigration and border security.

The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, has made a steady march toward the use of digital biometric data for identity management. After the attacks of 9/11, Congress mandated that DHS identify foreign airline travelers coming into the United States through digital fingerprints, and after that, required a biometric identification program for foreign nationals leaving the country. Since then, the department has added biometric identity management for U.S. citizens.

May 15, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Vice Adm.Nancy Norton, USN, director, DISA, and commander, JFHQ-DODIN, addresses the TechNet Cyber conference. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is acquiring an array of cutting-edge technologies using rapid development processes and could begin fielding some of those technologies within the next two years.

March 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Some fingerprint authentication systems, such as those on mobile devices, use only a partial print that is not as unique as an entire print and leaves the technology vulnerable to a synthetic fingerprint hack.  Shutterstock

Some people worry that artificial intelligence will steal their jobs, but machine learning algorithms now generate images of fake fingerprints that match the prints of one in five people on the planet. Other biometric identification systems, such as face and iris recognition, may also be vulnerable. The capability puts the mobile device industry on notice that current biometric authentication systems may not be adequate for securing cell phones and other devices.

December 1, 2018
By Shaun Waterman
Credit: sp3n/Shutterstock

Powered by recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, long-hyped technologies such as facial recognition and behavioral biometrics are promising frictionless identity authentication. In the near future, people will be able prove who they are without even trying and sometimes without even knowing they’re doing it.

September 27, 2018
By Shaun Waterman
Credit: Shuterstock/jannoon028

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are powering a new generation of technology that can identify computer users by the way they handle their keyboard and mouse.

Known as behavioral biometrics, the technology provides a way to continuously authenticate users—guarding against credential theft and account takeover, two of the most common forms of online attacks.

September 25, 2018
By Shaun Waterman

Biometric databases held by the Defense Department, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security will be able to communicate with each other seamlessly for the first time ever once a new standard for encoding biometric information is approved next year, DOD officials told the audience at the AFCEA Federal Identity Forum in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday.

September 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Artificial intelligence-driven voice forensics can yield a great deal of information about a speaker, including physical characteristics, health, genealogy and environment. Credit: Shutterstock

In the future, voice analysis of an intercepted phone call from an international terrorist to a crony could yield the caller’s age, gender, ethnicity, height, weight, health status, emotional state, educational level and socioeconomic class. Artificial intelligence-fueled voice forensics technology also may offer clues about location; room size; wall, ceiling and floor type; amount of clutter; kind of device, down to the specific model used to make the call; and possibly even facial characteristics of the caller.  

February 1, 2018
By Ryan René Rosado

With modern society’s infatuation with selfies, facial recognition technology could easily be used to identify common physical traits of criminals, pinpoint communities dominated by potential offenders and then help determine where to focus crime-prevention programs.

December 1, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will use facial recognition technology at airports to verify the identity of U.S. citizens returning from foreign travel.

Imagine, as an American citizen, returning to the United States from an international flight, going through customs and never pulling out a passport. For U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is working to expand its entry and exit biometric-based security, this is an emerging reality. Using advanced facial recognition technology, customs officers at entry points in U.S. airports will be able to identify travelers long before they reach the customs desk.

September 1, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman
A DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 satellite image of Sydney shows the variety of buildings dotting the landscape. Among the artificial intelligence (AI) research sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is an AI program designed to determine the functions of buildings just from looking at overhead imagery.

Geospatial imagery as well as facial recognition and other biometrics are driving the intelligence community’s research into artificial intelligence. Other intelligence activities, such as human language translation and event warning and forecasting, also stand to gain from advances being pursued in government, academic and industry research programs funded by the community’s research arm.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is working toward breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, or AI, through a number of research programs. All these AI programs tap expertise in government, industry or academia.

August 21, 2017
By Robert K. Ackerman

Geospatial imagery as well as facial recognition and other biometrics are driving the intelligence community’s research into artificial intelligence. Other intelligence activities, such as human language translation and event warning and forecasting, also stand to gain from advances being pursued in government, academic and industry research programs funded by the community’s research arm.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is working toward breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, or AI, through a number of research programs. All these AI programs tap expertise in government, industry or academia.

August 17, 2017
The Homeland Security Department is testing a new contact-free fingerprinting technology at select airports.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to evaluate new identity verification technology that can reduce the time it takes for travelers to pass through security. Proof-of-concept testing is taking place in select TSA Precheck lanes at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Denver International Airport.

August 1, 2017
By George I. Seffers
A senior airman removes his gas mask during a readiness drill. Because traditional biometric authentication techniques such as fingerprints and facial scans are not always practical for warfighters, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) officials are developing a prototypical system to track gait patterns and frequently visited locations.

A U.S. Defense Department pilot project intends to develop a prototype system within the next year to authenticate the identity of mobile users through their so-called patterns of life, such as how fast they walk to work or locations they routinely visit. The project is designed to benefit warfighters who may not have time for fingerprints, facial recognition scans or other forms of traditional biometrics.

July 31, 2017
By Julianne Simpson

Someone’s always watching. In malls, stadiums, train stations, parking garages, airports—security cameras are everywhere. But with so much information flowing in, it can be challenging for the people in the control rooms monitoring activity to catch every little detail. And surprisingly, most mainstream video security technology lacks sound, color or both. That’s where Chongeun Lee, a MITRE engineer specializing in biometrics, comes in.

June 28, 2017

SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., has announced it has been awarded a four-year $12.5 million contract by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) National Intelligence Directorate’s Odin Program to research and develop “dynamic biometrics” able to better detect attempts to evade or deceive biometric security systems, such as fingerprint, iris and face scanners. The ability to detect these so-called presentation attacks, which attempt to deceive security systems, addresses a critical weakness in current generation biometric security systems and can significantly expand biometric use cases.

February 22, 2016
By George I. Seffers

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has released a broad agency announcement (BAA) seeking proposals to develop, and experimentally test, systems that use crowdsourcing and structured analytic techniques to improve analytic reasoning. At the same time, the organization released three requests for information and announced a March 11 proposers’ day for the Odin program, which is developing methods for detecting attempts to disguise a person’s biometric identity.

September 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
A U.S. airman photographs the iris of an Afghan district police chief. The images are cataloged in a database containing biometric information used to identify locals.

The use of biometrics for force protection alone could be a bygone approach as the blossoming technology makes inroads toward the development of a new intelligence discipline. Biometrics intelligence ultimately could be the next INT in the menu of intelligence specialties.

The U.S. military’s interest in rapidly acquiring biometrics know-how to help today’s warfighter with tomorrow’s technology puts the private sector on the verge of a turning point.

September 10, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. government wants in on the resurgence of developments in contactless biometric technology, seeing smart applications of such devices in places such as airport security. But before device deployment, officials need to make sure the scanners and sensors actually do what they say they do—safely and accurately.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working with a handful of private companies to develop data format standards, best practices and methods for certification testing on new products before any can be used.

September 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The latest methods of identity verification might border on intrusive as behavioral biometrics continues to evolve. Tactics range from what some might consider simple measurements of keystroke dynamics to cutting-edge future solutions that could constantly monitor a user’s breathing or eye movements.

The ever-growing amount of sensitive data being generated, punctuated by recent breaches showing just how vulnerable that information is to attacks, spurred both federal agencies and the private sector to find ways to safeguard their networks better. But superior security also might mean better insight into users, leaving even more telling information vulnerable to theft or espionage.

September 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The Science and Technology Directorate and Homeland Security Investigations, both within the Homeland Security Department, are working together to evaluate state-of-the-art biometric technologies and ultimately to integrate those technologies into existing investigation tools. Because child exploitation images and videos pose the greatest challenge, technologies that aid in those investigations likely will benefit a broader range of missions.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Non-Cooperative Biometrics Program will evaluate cutting-edge technologies, such as facial recognition and tattoo identification, and integrate them into current investigation tools. The program specifically focuses on technologies to aid in the fight against child exploitation, but because those are some of the most technologically challenging cases, the program has implications for other missions as well.

June 26, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
A French unmanned aerial vehicle hovers in front of a crowd during a demonstration at the Brunei Darussalam International Defense Exhibition in Bandar Seri Begawan in 2013. The exercise focuses on multilateral relationships and enhances preparedness for disasters and other operations.

Drones are leaving the battlefield in droves, increasingly taking on non-lethal civilian and humanitarian missions as aid groups and private companies capitalize on technology that not only is more common, but more affordable and manageable.

July 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
A color-enhanced typhimurium strain of salmonella (red) invades cultured human cells. The hundreds of microbes living on and in the human body have proven to be surprisingly unique.

A recent study indicates the communities of microbes found in and on the human body can be used to identify individuals, much like fingerprints and other biometric data. The discovery could lead to a new form of biometrics supporting the identification of criminals and enhancing personalized medicine.  

June 12, 2015

Blackbox Biometrics Inc., Rochester, New York, has been awarded a maximum $9,371,520 firm-fixed-price contract for concussive force monitoring devices. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification commercial Federal Acquisition Regulation part 12. Location of performance is New York, with a June 9, 2016, performance completion date. Using service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2016 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Columbus, Ohio (SPE7M9-15-C-0034).

May 13, 2015

The Department of Public Safety’s Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST) program has awarded a contract to MorphoTrust USA to expand the current network of 93 enrollment facilities to include 55 new locations in more rural areas. The secure fingerprint-based background checks will be provided at IdentoGO Centers. The award makes Texas the first state to implement the company’s new commercial enrollment platform. Civilian applicants seeking licensure, employment and volunteer opportunities in Texas at agencies, including the Board of Nursing, the Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas Education Agency, among others, can benefit from increased access.

March 18, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The eyes have it in the Asia Pacific region, the fastest growing market for biometrics technology.

Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), London, United Kingdom, a market intelligence and analysis firm, estimates the biometric market in the Asia-Pacific region is worth $1.1 billion this year and will reach $3.3 billion by 2025. The projected increase represents a compound annual growth rate of 11.3 percent.

September 18, 2014
By Rita Boland

The intelligence community is striving to determine how it can work with industry early, before requirements for capabilities are confirmed, to get out ahead of challenges. Leaders want to adopt technology in some of the first phases rather than at the end. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is looking to standardize capabilities across the intelligence community, determining how its many members can collaborate.

September 17, 2014
By Rita Boland

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to replace its Automated Biometric Identification System, or IDENT, in the next two to four years, an official with the department says. IDENT is DHS's central system for storing and processing biometric and associated biographic information for various homeland security purposes.

September 17, 2014
By Rita Boland

Cyber is the prime concern of the intelligence community, Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber issues, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said today at the Global Identity Summit in Tampa. Not only is cyber an immense problem in itself, but it also pervades all other national security concerns, including biometrics.

September 16, 2014
By Rita Boland

“I’ve always assumed they enjoyed telling my story from their point of view.”

Frank Abagnale, the famous teenage confidence man turned law-enforcement adviser and expert on forgery, embezzlement and secure documents, spoke those words today to a crowd at the Global Identity Summit in Tampa, explaining that he never met most of the people who have created entertainment products about his life. Nor has he earned any money, because of his agreement with the U.S. government. The benefit has been an unsought notoriety that now allows him to tell his story of redemption and to explain that no technology can take the place of people with good character.

September 17, 2014
By Rita Boland

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) announced three new pilot programs this morning worth approximately $3 million. An additional almost $7 million is allocated for continued efforts in subsequent years.

Confyrm was awarded the largest contract, valued at around $1.2 million. It will pilot a shared signals solution to mitigate the impact of account takeovers and fake accounts through early fraud detection and notification with special emphasis on consumer privacy.

September 17, 2014
By Rita Boland

The password won’t die, but it’s killing us.

That was the message this morning from Jeremy Grant, senior executive adviser, National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), at the Global Identity Summit in Tampa. Estimates put the blame for 76 percent of network intrusions on weak passwords. Beyond security, they also affect commerce, as the majority of customers will leave websites rather than create accounts. Passwords are not beloved and are not doing us any favors, Grant explained.

September 16, 2014
By Rita Boland

The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system went live last week, replacing the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and improving accuracy. According to experts, the new system offers 99.6 percent correct identification versus 92 percent with the former. The NGI enables automation of 93 percent of searches. Other upgrades include connections with the National Palm Print System, an iris-modality repository and capabilities for more mobile detections.

September 16, 2014
By Rita Boland

The new generation of college graduates “don’t know or seem to care that their data is being [distributed] and sold to others, because they’re getting free stuff.” Duane Blackburn, currently with MITRE and formerly the assistant director for homeland security at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, made this point at the Global Identity Summit in Tampa today to explain generational differences regarding information sharing and privacy.

September 16, 2014
By Rita Boland

Biometric identification moved past fingerprints long ago, and the range of modalities is helping the keepers of law and order make a big difference in several ways. Last year, authorities apprehended a former European finance minister who had stolen thousands  of Euros by using voice recognition software to identify the perpetrator through a phone message. Another tool combines facial recognition with a breathalyzer so that in addition to capturing blood alcohol content, the device can send a photo of the person to a repository website.

July 11, 2014

General Technical Systems, Virginia Beach, Virginia, is being awarded an $11,825,274 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the development of a prototype Gatekeeper On The Move-Biometrics (GOTM-B) in support of reconnaissance and surveillance payloads, sensors, delivery systems and platforms. The GOTM-B system is an innovative, non-contact, on-the-move, multimodal biometric (3D finger, face, and iris) identity operations and force protection capability. This contract was competitively procured via a broad agency announcement and one offer was received. The Naval Air Warfare Center, Lakehurst, New Jersey, is the contracting activity (N68335-14-C-0183).

May 23, 2014

American Systems Corporation, Chantilly, Virginia (N65236-14-D-4986); Booz Allen Hamilton Incorporated, McLean, Virginia (N65236-14-D-4987); Honeywell Technology Solutions Incoorporated, Columbia, Maryland (N65236-14-D-4988); Ideal Innovations Incorporated, Arlington, Virginia (N65236-14-D-4989); Science Applications International Corporation, McLean, Virginia (N65236-14-D-4990); and Scientific Research Corporation, Atlanta (N