Army takes lead in biometric security research

HOUSTON — Faced with a steady increase in illegal intrusions into its computer

networks, the Army has accepted responsibility for research and development

of biometric technologies to bolster the Defense Department's cybersecurity


Supported by Sen. Robert Byrd (R-Va.), who pushed to have the Army designated

as the executive agent for biometric security technologies, the Army is

forging ahead with research into technologies that promise to make it harder

for unauthorized individuals to gain access to critical networks and information.

According to Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army's director of information

systems for command, control, communications and computers, speaking here

at the annual Army Directors of Information Management Conference, the Army

is looking at a combination of biometric technologies to secure its networks

of the future.

The biometric security solutions under consideration by the Army include

a range of well-known solutions, such as fingerprint, iris and retina scanners;

voice and face recognition technologies; and handwriting analysis tools.

But the Army also is studying hardware and software that can analyze keystrokes

on a keyboard, recognize the pattern of an individual's wrist veins, and

calculate the unique geometric characteristics of a person's finger and


Movement on the biometric R&D front comes as the number of known cybersecurity

incidents throughout the Army in 1999 hit 2,897 - an increase of more than

200 percent compared with 1998. Likewise, the number of confirmed network

intrusions climbed from 13 in 1998 to 55 last year. So far this year there

have been more than 1,370 security incidents and four known intrusions,

Campbell sa

"We are probably being surveyed constantly," Campbell said. "As a nation,

we are extended way beyond where we ought to be." Campbell added that DOD's

Non-secure Internet Protocol Routing Network is, in his opinion, "horribly,

horribly vulnerable."


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