Home' Defense Systems : March and April 2014 Contents DefenseSystems.com | MARCH/APRIL 2014 15
FBI s Integrated Automated Fingerprint
Identi cation System (IAFIS) and the
Department of Homeland Security s
ABIS performs many tasks: assisting
intelligence and counterintelligence
operations, Iraqi and Afghan security
force screening, detainee operations,
and post-IED incident exploitation;
presence operations, local population
control, seizure operations, and base ac-
ABIS is an important step forward in
combating known terrorists, chronicling
"might-bes" and dissuading others. But it s
not without challenges.
A bugbear in any relatively new sys-
tem (this one dates to 2005), as with
military communications writ large, is
interoperability. ABIS communicates
with other vast biodata repositories at
play across branches, agencies and con-
tinents. (Certain U.S. allies share data.)
And while such interconnections
are relatively smooth, Vann-Olejasz
acknowledged that, "seamless interop-
erability continues to be an ongoing ef-
fort." at echoes a nding in a General
Accountability O ce biometrics report
from 2012 stating that sharing was in-
Another issue is the system s mul-
timodal biodata capture devices.
Vann-Olejasz acknowledged technical
downsides to the do-all technology, but
said, "All-in-one devices are designed
for portability -- lightweight and rug-
gedized -- which means they re usually
self-contained and cost more."
e investment in portability is a
"trade-o to technical obsolescence,"
she said. e hardware is "typically
not upgradeable to newer biometric
technology," such as replacing the n-
gerprint platen to reduce weight or im-
prove image quality.
at applies as well to processors and
memory needed to handle an increas-
ing overhead of cybersecurity tools and
operating system changes.
Rather, "improvements that can be
made to extend the lifecycle of a hand-
held device are [limited to] so ware
improvements providing better algo-
rithms, faster transaction management
and improved work ows," she said.
Conversely, these downsides don t
diminish "the critical need for a mul-
timodal portable biometric capabil-
ity," Vann-Olejasz said. "By collecting
[multiple] biometrics you increase the
likelihood of a match with the authori-
tative database which may only have
one ngerprint or only irises associated
with an identity; ultimately increasing
the probability of identifying a person
As well, redundant captures for iris,
palm, ngerprints and so on can be
useful in capturing persons of interest.
"If we enroll the same individual at nu-
merous sites during many incidents, it
triggers action to connect the dots and
appropriate action is taken."
e enemy, Vann-Olejasz said, will
always try to nd a way to get around
force protection measures. "Fortunately,
biometrics is an evolving eld and takes
away the anonymity of the enemy," she
said. "Biometrics is expanding into
many aspects of our environment i.e.,
force protection, ID cards, cell phone
user authentication, hospital registra-
As it does, "we strive to keep ahead
of countermeasures and contribute
to security across the full spectrum of
military operations." ■
The Defense Department s
biometrics program primarily
fovues on the use of biometrics
as a countermeasure, but the
Pentagon also is testing its use
for access control.
In mid-January, the Army con-
cluded a 90-day pilot program
for employing scans for base
access control. Since October,
employees and visitors at the VIP
entrance of the Defense Depart-
ment s Mark Center in Northern
Virginia had used iris and nger-
print readers --- along with their
ID cards --- to enter.
"Scannees" included the
Provost Marshal General, Maj.
Gen. David Quantock, and De-
fense Forensics and Biometrics
Agency Director Don Salo.
"This is the future, no doubt,
Quantock said after opening a
door with his iris and ngerprint,
and without glitches.
The system allowed users
to choose iris or ngerprint
--- along with their ID cards ---
reducing the chance of someone
being unable to use the system
to nearly zero, according to the
Lessons learned from the
pilot are to be applied toward
biometric access at the Pentagon
and other Defense installations.
"Cards are great for access
controls, but they don t provide
high or medium assurance,
Ryan Breeden, acting Pentagon
Force Protection Agency branch
chief for Identity Credential Ac-
cess Management. In the pilot
program, biometrics ensured
that persons presenting creden-
tials were the proper owners.
More than 1,800 individuals
used the entrance during the pi-
lot program, totaling more than
10,000 separate building entries.
Despite the volume and real-
world conditions, the system
held up. "We haven t been able
to break it -- and that s a good
" Breeden said.
The Mark Center opened in
2011 with the long-term inten-
tion of implementing biometric
access control throughout the
facility. With support and funding
from DFBA s predecessor orga-
nization (the Biometrics Identity
Management Agency), access
control points were built with
mounts for biometric readers
and even with marks on the oor
showing users where to stand.
--David C. Walsh
Biometrics for access control is knocking on the door
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