How Does a Biometric Safe Work?

How Does a Biometric Safe Work?

I have always been fascinated by technology.  Some of it is easy to understand, some very difficult.  Some you can see how the product in your hands could evolved over the years into what you have today (cell phones).  Others, you have no idea how they just came up with this idea (that cordless charging thing where you simply set your cell phone on the pad to charge it=brilliant).  Biometric safes are actually a blend of 100+ year old technology and leading edge technology.  If you separate the phrase, Biometric Safe, you can see what I mean:

Biometric
Biometrics are any methods for uniquely identifying a human based upon one or more unique physical or behavioral traits that can not be reproduced easily or at all.  This unique trait forms the basis for identifying that particular person and is stored in the computer as the foundation for identity access management and access control.  These are fancy words that say  “the computer stores something that only you posses (like your fingerprint) and then uses that to validate that you are you”.  Most often the biometrics software has a three step process which includes an interface from the computer to the human (possibly a touch screen called a biometric reader), a pre-processing algorithm to normalize the image from the interface, enhance the image, and remove any background noise, and third a process that takes the normalized image and breaks it down into data points and stores it in the computer’s database while discarding any other non-relevant information.

Safe
Safes are essentially hardened and strengthen metal boxes with doors.  Those doors are secured by large metal bolts that extend out from the door and into the frame of the door, again hardening the opening.  They are meant to keep people out.  Although many new improvements in the securing of the box have been made over the last 100 years, that part of the device remains mostly unchanged.  The bulk of the improvements/enhancements or maybe call it modernization in safes are in how you gain access to it.  Originally it was a key, then it became a dial lock, then more sophisticated dial locks, then electronic locks, and eventually biometric locks, where the owner is the only one that can possess the combo (a fingerprint).  It can’t be stolen and is difficult to reproduce.  Many safes also have multiple access systems for either additional security or alternative entry in case of a failure of the primary system (usually the electronics).

To use a biometric safe, you first must go through a process called enrollment.  During this process, your biometric information (fingerprint) is stored in the memory inside the tiny circuitry in the safe.  This enrollment process is much like choosing your password the first time you sign up for a new website or something and it is called registering a user.  It uniquely identifies you as you.  Most biometric safes allow you to store multiple fingerprints to allow multiple people to open the safe.

When you want to open the safe, you simply hold your finger over the biometric reader and the the safe will open.  It is that simple.  If the fingerprint does not match any on file, the safe does not open.  Some models will shut down for 10 minutes if there have been too many failed attempts.  Most biometric gun safes do NOT have this feature as it can a life or death situation if you can’t get the safe open.  Many models have simple AA batteries to change from the exterior of the unit to keep the safe running.  Plus, for added peace of mind, many manufactures offer a secondary way to open the safe such as a keypad or a key (which should be store away in a seperate place when not needed).

Biometrics are considered good systems of security. Keep in mind that the technology, like any, is not perfect. It suffers from what is called False Acceptances or False Rejections. A False Acceptance is when an person is allowed into the safe, although they are not a registered user. This could occur when a person is similar to a user or has copied the user’s biological or behavioral information (which is difficult, but not impossible to do).  Most biometric safes carry have a False Accept Rates that vary from 0.0001% to 0.1%, which makes them very secure.  Alternatively, a False Rejection occurs when a registered user is falsely rejected and not allowed access. This occurs when a user’s criteria does not match their stored information.  The failure rate for this varies from 0.00066% to 1.0%.  This will often occur from human error if a person uses the wrong finger to access the safe.

Manufactures of these safes include:  Honeywell, Barska, Gunvault, Biovault, and LockSAF to name a few.

One Response to “How Does a Biometric Safe Work?”

  1. Dewald Swart says:

    I say this again, I still prefer the old fashioned lock and key safe. They are allot harder to pick.

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