I am reading Jim Harper’s book Identity Crisis and got the inspiration to draw this simple chart of identifiers that can be used for multi-factor authentication.
Identifiers -Copyright - c. 2007
Copyright – c. 2007

Combinations of these identifiers can be used to increase the certainty in any authentication scheme (computer based or not).
As an example, if the probability of identifying someone using the hair color (something you are, biometric) is 1 in 10 (I_1 = {{1} \over {10}}) and the probability to identify him based on his name (something assigned, name) is 1 in 100,000 (I_2={{1} \over {100,000}}) The probability for the combined use is I_{1 + 2}=I_1 \times I_2={{1} \over {1,000,000}})


2 Responses to Identification

  1. paul says:

    The choice of ‘hair color’ was particularly poor, one could go with harder to forge features such as distance between the eyes, triangulation with the tip of the nose and position and length of mouth, etc.
    It is wonderful that just a few identifiers, that a computer can check in milliseconds against a database, can increase the security many fold.

  2. Mario says:

    I agree with Paul that the hair color is a poor choice, in particular because it is so easy to be changed. There is another dimension to the choice of identifiers and that is permanence. It seems that so far the only biometric identifier that is permanent is the DNA, although in the future it would be possible to be changed through genomic interventions.

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