Biovault: Biometrically Based Encryption

B. L. Tait, S. H. von Solms

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Biometric based characteristic authentication is an asymmetric [1] authentication technology. This means that the reference biometric data generated during the enrolment process and stored in the biometric database, will never match any freshly offered biometric data exactly (100%). This is commonly accepted due to the nature of the biometric algorithm [2] central to the biometric environment. A password or pin on the other hand, is a symmetric authentication mechanism. This means that an exact match is expected, and if the offered password deviates ever so slightly from the password stored in the password database file, authenticity is rejected. Encryption technologies rely on symmetric authentication to function, as the password or pin is often used as the seed for a random number that will assist in the generation of the cipher. If the password used to encrypt the cipher is not 100% the same as the password supplied to decrypt, the cipher will not unlock. The asymmetric nature of biometrics traditionally renders biometric data unfit to be used as the secret key for an encryption algorithm. This paper introduces a system that allows biometric data to be used as the secret key in an encryption algorithm. This method relies on the BioVault infrastructure. For this reason BioVault will briefly be discussed, followed by a discussion of biometrically based encryption.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoftware Services for e-Business and e-Society - 9th IFIP WG 6.1 Conference on e-Business, e-Services and e-Society, I3E 2009, Proceedings
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event9th IFIP WG 6.1 Conference on e-Business, e-Services and e-Society, I3E 2009 - Nancy, France
Duration: 23 Sept 200925 Sept 2009

Publication series

NameIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology
ISSN (Print)1868-4238


Conference9th IFIP WG 6.1 Conference on e-Business, e-Services and e-Society, I3E 2009


  • BioVault
  • Biometrics
  • Encryption
  • data protection
  • data security
  • key management
  • privacy-enhancing technology
  • secure transaction
  • security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems and Management


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