What are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Biometric Identification?

Many businesses or organizations now use biometric identification in order to secure their premises or sensitive information. There are many types of biometric scanners. Some of them perform iris scans, while others scan users' fingerprints, the shape of their hands or even the way they type on a keyboard. While biometric identification is more secure than more traditional means, it also has certain disadvantages.

Some biometric scanners use fingerprints to perform user identification.


Biometric identification is a technique which uses the unique behavioral or physical features of an individual in order to identify him. For example, when a biometric device scans fingerprints, it then compares it with every authorized user's fingerprints in its database, the way an investigator might compare fingerprints. If the scanned fingerprints match an authorized user's, that person is then granted access to the device. But biometric identification is not only restricted to physical features. Some behavioral patters, such as speech or the way a person types on a keyboard, can also be analyzed.


Biometric identification devices are typically installed on the doors of secure locations. They allow authorized personnel to enter the premises while denying entry to unauthorized individuals. There are also other uses for biometric identification. For example, some companies use biometrics to secure their computer network, while some schools use fingerprint scanners in order to control students' attendance.


Physical and behavioral features are much more difficult to forge than traditional identification methods. Also, while a criminal might be able to obtain a password illegally, getting a user's fingerprints would be much more complicated. In addition, contrary to traditional ID cards or badges, you can't actually lose physical features, making maintenance more cost efficient for the business or organization, and the technology more convenient for users.


Biometric identification machines are traditionally more expensive to buy than traditional ones. In addition, some users may reject biometrics as a whole, seeing it as an invasion of privacy. Also, biometric identification machines are not always entirely accurate. For example, an individual with a cold may not be able to identify himself using a voice identification device, and people who gain or lose weight may suddenly lose access to a place protected by a system analyzing facial features.

John Grossman

John Grossman has worked as a journalist and copy editor for various publications since 1985. In the 1980s, he was in charge of the entertainment section of the "Austin Chronicle" newspaper and has, since then, worked for other publications, including golf and fitness magazines. Grossman holds a Master of Journalism from the University of Texas.