Biometrics consists of using a part of you—a fingerprint, handprint, iris scan, voiceprint, even your DNA—to prove your identity. A fingerprint biometric can be used in two-factor authentication to identify you instead of, say, a PIN code. Or it can be required in addition to a PIN code, something known as multi-factor authentication. Security experts agree that having additional “factors” to prove someone’s identity increases security. Biometrics can also be more convenient than remembering or entering passwords or PIN codes to lock PCs, which is why many laptops now come with fingerprint scanners built into them.
A big advantage of using biometrics is that it ties an identity credential more tightly to its owner. The electronic passports now in use worldwide are a good example of this, because they contain a digitized photograph of the owner, a type of biometric. This helps to prevent counterfeiting of passports, because even if someone changes the photograph printed in the passport booklet, they cannot modify the digitized photograph.