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EU project to take biometric security to the next level

Staff writer |
The TABULA RASA consortium, which is supported by EU research and innovation investment, has set out to identify just how well face, voice and fingerprint identification software work, in particular against the growing phenomenon of spoofing.

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Biometric systems have proven to be one of the most efficient security solutions available today. However, some biometric sensor vulnerabilities still exist, including some which have been well publicised in the International media. The TABULA RASA consortium comprises 12 organisations across seven countries that have worked together fore three years to research as many vulnerabilities as possible, to develop countermeasures accordingly and ultimately a new breed of safer biometric systems.

In the course of its research, TABULA RASA hosted a Spoofing Challenge, which invited researchers from around the world to develop attack plans and to attempt to deceive various biometric systems. Participants showed that there are many different and creative ways to attack the systems.

The most innovative attack proposed during this challenge used make-up to spoof a 2D face recognition system and succeeded in being recognised as the victim. Other contestants used well-known attacks such as photographs, masks or fake fingerprints (gummy fingers) to successfully spoof the systems.

The EU invested €4.4 million in the TABULA RASA project, which was used alongside a €1.6 million investment by the Consortium to carry out the extensive research and testing involved.

The TABULA RASA research project has made an extensive list of possible spoofing attacks, evaluated the vulnerability of biometric systems to such attacks, and developed countermeasures that for instance detect signs of liveness (e.g. blinking, perspiration) and improve security of biometric systems.

TABULA RASA has already transferred five of these countermeasures to companies. This in-depth knowledge about spoofing attacks allows European industries to maintain their leadership by improving conception of future spoofing-proof biometric sensors, thus opening up the huge potential of biometric technology.

The project is expected to create jobs within the European SME sector as the results are integrated into commercialised solutions. For example, KeyLemon, a Swiss based start-up, has integrated a face recognition software countermeasure, developed by TABULA RASA, into a final product. The expertise developed in the TABULA RASA project helped KeyLemon to secure a series A investment of $1.5M, creating jobs within the company. Morpho, the world leader in biometric solutions, is also deeply involved, bringing its invaluable expertise and market vision to the consortium.

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