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Education Security Technology

Iris Scans Are the New School IDs 217

Posted by timothy
from the sir-your-frog-is-boiling-even-as-we-speak dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Winthrop University in South Carolina is testing out iris scanning technology during freshman orientation this summer. Students had their eyes scanned as they received their ID cards in June. 'Iris scanning has a very high level of accuracy, and you don't have to touch anything, said James Hammond, head of Winthrop University's Information Technology department. 'It can be hands free security.'" I wouldn't want to be locked out a building because of a scratched lens or a system outage, though.
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Iris Scans Are the New School IDs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @06:41PM (#44256603)

    from being locked out due to a broken/lost/defective key/card/etc in any other building access system...?????

    • I wonder as we see more biometrics implemented when the ADA will get involved. It seems inevitable.

      I don't have eyes you insensitive clod!
      • by sunking2 (521698)
        The ADA just means you have to accomodate work arounds, not make sure they can use the means. For example, you don't have to replace steps with ramps, just have ramps in addition, etc.
        • I meant it partly in jest but it should factor into the expense analysis if they did have to keep the old systems around. I wonder if shorter people might have trouble reaching the scanner. I'm not making any kind of argument here, my mind is just wandering on the topic. I wonder what other biometric systems might have issues with outliers in the population.
        • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:05PM (#44257589)

          I think the first thing I would do, then, is to opt to use a 'disabled' alternative. My iris pattern is not something I am willing to provide to the school under any circumstances, along with my fingerprints, retinal map, and a number of other biometric options.

          If they need something beyond an ID with RFID, QR code, or a magstripe, they need to provide some pretty fucking compelling reasons for me to go along with it.

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      The potential for kids messing with it is greater. One little smudge on the lens and the system is down. I predict 75% uptime tops.
      • A nice layer of petroleum jelly or a good rub with some coarse sandpaper come to mind.

        Naturally, you'll have to have cameras watching the scanners...
        • "A nice layer of petroleum jelly or a good rub with some coarse sandpaper come to mind."

          I find it both very amusing and very aggravating that government at all levels has been wasting so much of the public's time and money on things like this, considering how INEFFECTIVE they have proven to be.

          In most cities where they have been tried, traffic cameras have increased traffic accidents. There are some lawsuits going on in my area, which will probably result in them getting banned statewide. Not just because they are ineffective, but because enforcing anything via camera violates long-standing

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      from being locked out due to a broken/lost/defective key/card/etc in any other building access system...?????

      You can replace keys/cards if somebody else gets the numbers off them and uses them for other activities.

      Now stop trolling.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Because OMG privacy that's why!

      Timothy needed to get above a minimum word count to post the story.

    • from being locked out due to a broken/lost/defective key/card/etc in any other building access system...?????

      Oh, my good eyeball is around here somewhere, just a second. How embarrassing! Ah, you know I think I left it at home. How did I even make it here without it? Ha heh, oh.... Say, you could just lend me yours?

  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @06:44PM (#44256635)

    The reader will beep if they're on the right bus and honk if they're on the wrong one.

    Or you could teach them to read the numbers on the side of the bus, but that's just my zany, wacky idea. Or are the kids too stupid to get on the exact same numbered bus day after day?

    • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @06:47PM (#44256649)
      Besides, we still have human beings driving the buses, do we not? These same humans are charged with remembering the route to and location of each student's home. I should hope they'd also be able to recognize the student at sight.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:57PM (#44257927)

        That part's harder than you think. I drove two busloads of kids a day with 50+ kids. I knew where the stops were, but it took me a few weeks to start getting familiar who was getting on and off where, still it would have been easy to sneak an extra person or less people- plus people are absent, have approval to bring home a friend, etc. We do our best, but there's no way I'm going to learn 100+ kids faces that I see for at most about 30 seconds a day as they get on and off to the point I'd know exactly who gets on and off at each stop and their names/faces.

    • by khallow (566160) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @06:55PM (#44256737)

      Or you could teach them to read the numbers on the side of the bus

      if these were regular kids, you'd have a point. But these are college students. It's not fair to expect people like that to master such sophisticated mental tasks.

      • RT... ah, nevermind. I find that abbreviation rude. Here's a public service:

        By the fall, several schools -- ranging from elementary schools to colleges -- will be rolling out various iris scanning security methods.

        My first reaction to the 'kids lose their school IDs line' was the same as yours here though.

        • by khallow (566160)
          Sorry, I didn't catch that part of the article till later. In my defense, they only mentioned one school by name, Winthrop University in the entire story.

          I see that Eyelock is testing its stuff [secureidnews.com] in at least one elementary school.
      • Or you could teach them to read the numbers on the side of the bus

        if these were regular kids, you'd have a point. But these are college students. It's not fair to expect people like that to master such sophisticated mental tasks.

        Do you have any idea how hard it is to read the numbers, never mind remembering which one is the one you should get on, when you're drunk on cheap beer?

    • Wait you want people to remember numbers just for a bus? Getting on a bus should require zero Maths knowledge.
      That way they can better accommodate the majority of Americans.

    • I actually remember having quite a bit of anxiety about this as a kid. The buses weren't always parked in the same order and sometimes it could be really hard to see the numbers and there's a huge rush to get everyone on the buses and for buses to start leaving and you don't want to get left behind. Also, buses broke down and so the number could get changed and you may not have heard it announced over the intercom system for various reasons.

      I think maybe one time I got on the wrong bus because I was in a co
    • by havana9 (101033)

      Or you could teach them to read the numbers on the side of the bus, but that's just my zany, wacky idea. Or are the kids too stupid to get on the exact same numbered bus day after day?

      In the 1800's because there were a lot of illiterates, horse drawn trams were using wooden panels with the line numbers with different colours, so for instance the line 5 was using a green panel and line 6 a blue panel. Problem solved. Anyway the actual school buses are using only the colour designation.

  • We are conditioning them to live in a police state.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      "It's *safer* here."
    • by smprather (941570)

      We are conditioning them to live in a police state.

      Yes, because "we" demand zero-defect terrorism policies. Don't blame the gubrmnt just because people flip out over bombs but accept causes of death orders of magnitude more significant. The terrorists have officially won.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        Yes, because "we" demand zero-defect terrorism policies.

        The people are demanding that. The politicians are claiming that the people are demanding that. The distinction isnt subtle.

        • by adolf (21054)

          The people are demanding that. The politicians are claiming that the people are demanding that.

          (I assume this is a typo or an error of omission, and that you meant for there to be an aren't in there somewhere.)

          You haven't heard the friendly, give-you-the-shirt-off-their-back folks I know who rail against "them Muslims." They live in the midwest and don't really do anything but work every day, live simple lives, and go to church on Sunday. They seldom leave the county for anything, let alone the state or c

    • by westlake (615356)

      We are conditioning them to live in a police state.

      More bullshit.

      Accept legal responsibility for 1500 kids in your ten acre suburban campus from 7:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon. Five schools with their associated libraries, cafeterias, athletic facilities plus a theater, day care, community center and so on and on and on.

      Your annual budget apart from state and federal contributions is $40 million dollars.

      If anything goes wrong, it is your head on the block,

      Now tell me how you are going to manage physical security. Inventory control. Emergen

  • to pay attention to school board and municipal elections.
    • by garcia (6573)

      What sorts of public campaigns have you witnessed for school boards where these sorts of asinine discussions are raised? This would be injected into the meeting agenda as a minor item lumped with a bunch of others which would have all been approved with a single quick vote so they could move on to much more important topics such as wasting money on some frivolous sporting event or booster club meeting.

      These sorts of discussions only come up during campaigns AFTER they've been put into place and one person i

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @06:57PM (#44256747) Homepage
    My eyes are very sensitive to bright light. Every year, when I get my eyes examined, I have to have them dilated so that the inside of the eye can be properly examined. This procedure is so painful that the ophthalmologist has to hold my eyelid open because no matter how hard I try I can't keep it open otherwise. I've offered to do i, but she always prefers to take care of it herself. And, from what she's said, this isn't exactly uncommon. I can just imagine what's going to happen the first time a student finds out that they can't keep their eye open long enough for the scan and can't get into class without it.
    • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @09:19PM (#44257685)

      They can scan the Iris with Infrared light which is not detected by the eye, and therefore won't trigger the bright-light reaction. The part they are scanning is also the Iris - the colored ring surrounding the pupil - and not the Retina, at the back of your eye, requiring said pupil dilation.

      • Thank you. I understood that it was using the iris not the retina, but didn't know that it was infrared. And, because there a reasonable possibility that there'd be some light going into the eye, I was concerned that people like me might find it uncomfortable. It's always nice to know that my concerns were unfounded.
  • by Dereck1701 (1922824) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:00PM (#44256773)

    I'd prefer it over fingerprint scanners as it is much less usable for mass surveillance. You don't leave it all over the place like DNA or finger prints and at least for the moment the technology doesn't exist for setting up mass scanners for public areas (think "Minority Report"). That said it has the same deficiency as all biometric systems, if your "password" gets stolen you can't change it. And don't think that "you can't fake iris scans", they have said that about every biometric security system invented and within 5 years after it becomes widely used someone is parading around a method of beating it, sometimes in hilariously easy ways.

  • by MasseKid (1294554) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:03PM (#44256801)
    So when someone steals credentials, how do you change your "password"?
  • by LeifOfLiberty (2812101) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:13PM (#44256873)
    Biometrics are good for surveillance but not for authentication. A good authentication method supports revocation of an identification key, such as would be needed in the event of its compromise. It should not be trusted as a factor in authentication either, for the same reason. Great for theater though I suppose. Article about it here growingliberty.com/thumbs-down-for-fingerprint-identification
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Another good article that makes the same point by Bruce Schneier himself. Biometrics: uses and abuses [schneier.com].

    • by Calydor (739835)

      So umm, wouldn't revoking authentication be as simple as banning eye #1234 from the scanner?

      This is a school, not a top secret research lab. The chance of a student being killed and his eye pulled out of its socket in order to get through a locked door is minimal. It would usually only work once, too, after which the eye would decay too much to be used in the scanner anyway, which serves as a built-in revoke.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:31PM (#44257011)
    What exactly is the security issue that's significant enough to warrant such extreme and invasive measures? Is it such a prestigious institution that there are hoards of non-registered kids trying to sneak in? Is there a problem with rampant crime or extremely bad behaviour? What possible real reason could they have, other than, "hey, we got funding for this fancy new tech!" or conditioning them to the future of a police state?
    • by stenvar (2789879)

      Obviously, they need iris scanning to prevent some 35 year old perv from sneaking onto a school bus pretending to be a second grader!

    • by jschrod (172610)

      What exactly is the security issue that's significant enough to warrant such extreme and invasive measures?

      That's easy to answer: They are not yet conditioned enough to accept all-around surveillance and ID requests under all circumstances. This is clearly a threat to the US "war on terrorism" and thus a security issue.

    • What exactly is the security issue that's significant enough to warrant such extreme and invasive measures? Is it such a prestigious institution that there are hoards of non-registered kids trying to sneak in? Is there a problem with rampant crime or extremely bad behaviour? What possible real reason could they have, other than, "hey, we got funding for this fancy new tech!" or conditioning them to the future of a police state?

      Lawyers. Lots of lawyers and parents ready to sue over the slightest thing.

    • systematic training of citizens to 'follow orders and don't question them'.

      just that simple, really.

      behave or you are marked as a troublemaker. and it goes on your 'permanent record' (gee, that phrase has a new meaning, these days, doesn't it?)

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Its a "hey, we got funding for this fancy new tech!" race. Once you get your tech into a sub set of larger US states, many will follow. You can lock out the competition for generations as been one of the first and ensure you stay one of the few certified national providers.
      Its a race worth funding at cost per university and with a national roll out as the prize.
      As for why, you can prevent substitute test takers for all exams, timed tests or practicals in classes with many 100's of students.
  • 43 comments and not a single reference to Minority Report [wikipedia.org]? Is this Slashdot? Nor is it just a silly geek reference.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @08:06PM (#44257207)

    We train our kids for more than a decade in a school system that is the opposite of the kind of society we want: it's a draconian, nearly totalitarian system that promotes belief in centralized authority and subjugation to expert opinion. And now, in addition to that, it trains kids to accept intrusive around the clock tracking and biometric identification. This does not bode well for the next generations of Americans.

  • I have to say this is the first time I heard about this Winthrop University. Random small universities always seem to have more money than those more prestigious ones. Well at least they seem to have more money on this kind of random programs.

  • What are the procedures when the information that the iris scanner has recorded is no longer valid? The human iris is not a static unchanging feature of the body. Obviously it changes with the intensity of the light it experiences, but it also changes as a result of the fact that it's moving, and the components of the iris do break down over time. This is going to chang ethe pattern of lines in the iris. This may not be significant for a 4 year degree (does anyone really get a 4 year degree in 4 years anymo

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      All you do is re-scan the iris every few years. I bet that will be less often than the number of times the key card gets lost.

      • by Lothsahn (221388)
        As someone who works in biometrics, it's actually even easier than this. You're already rescanning the finger/iris/hand geometry/whatever when you verify or identify a user. When you have a successful identification or verification, you average the current stored template with the slight variations in the newly captured template. That way the templates gradually adjust over time without an explicit "re-scan" or re-enrollment of the user.

        It's called adaptive templates, and it avoids this specific probl
    • What are the procedures when the information that the iris scanner has recorded is no longer valid?

      The procedure will be that the student is blocked from entering the main entrance and required to report to the nurse's office within 45 seconds for mandatory drug testing.

      Until the result of the drug test comes back from the lab, the nurse will issue the student with a pre-scanned animal eye in a jar to act as a temporary key. Also the kid in the wheelchair, the student with a bad case of cross-eyes, and the tenured Professor with macular degeneration, will be given their own permanent animal eye in a jar

  • Some Large Lecture Classes are next to useless to be at each Lecture and the last thing needed is forcing people to go all of them.

  • 1. remove all surveillance and tardy punishments. They aren't needed.
    2. the kid doesn't have to be in class everyday as long as he passes his tests and hands in his projects on time. if his grades suck, he fails the course and has to retake it.
    3. repeat offenders are dealt with according to their situations.

    This saves buttloads of money because the kids who want to learn or at least graduate will do so, the teachers wont' have to waste time with those who don't want to be there, and when those people do fin

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      There's one problem with your argument:

      1. Schools exist to fund phat jobs for those who couldn't find work in the real world.

      The last thing they want is to be more efficient and effective, then jobs get cut and they can't demand more money for doing a bad job.

  • You know what's valuable now?

    The best kind of fake ID -- someone's eyeball, removed.

    "It's him, we've got the iris scan... it does look a little dead... oh well, ring him in just in case."

  • is the biggest piece of crap I have ever encountered. If you have a lazy eye and are tired, that scanner won't be worth shit. It probably also won't work if you are coming down with something. The iris tends to change over time. Ignoring how stupid and fascist it is, iris scans have been shown to be horribly inaccurate. I use the fingerprint reader to enter the US but I never bother trying the iris scanner to enter Canada anymore and just use the regular customs line. I've had an operation to correct my ey
    • by isorox (205688)

      is the biggest piece of crap I have ever encountered. If you have a lazy eye and are tired, that scanner won't be worth shit. It probably also won't work if you are coming down with something. The iris tends to change over time. Ignoring how stupid and fascist it is, iris scans have been shown to be horribly inaccurate. I use the fingerprint reader to enter the US but I never bother trying the iris scanner to enter Canada anymore and just use the regular customs line.

      I've had an operation to correct my eye turn a bit but if I am tired, I am going to have trouble co-ordinating my eye positions.

      I often use iris at heathrow, it has never fail to recognise me on the first attempt, I've used it about 50 times over the last 3 years.

  • So if the server at the back-end performing password authentication is compromised, you ask everyone to change their password.

    What do you do when the server at the back-end is performing biometric authentication?

    Biometrics is the dumbest authentication scheme on the face of the planet and anyone who relies on it is a moron.

  • Two words..Spray paint.

  • Hold on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loki_666 (824073) on Friday July 12, 2013 @02:04AM (#44258933)

    Why is everyone discussion the actual method, and not mentioning why the hell any sort of security system is needed in the first place?

    Ok, maybe i'm going to sound like an old fart here, but when i was a kid school doors were only locked overnight. Otherwise it was open access. Not sure how it is in the UK these days, maybe they are also becoming scaredy cats like the 'muricans. I'm now in Russia and our kids' nursery didn't lock the doors either, they go to private school now, and while the door isn't locked we do have a security guard at the entrance, but i'm pretty sure that is more to stop people coming in and nicking stuff rather than protection of/from the children.

    Why do i think this is only about control and security theatre? Making sure he kids actually attend? Hell, when i was at school it was normal to occasionally skive off school but the class register would show your absence anyway. If kids are not attending then its time to have a word with the parents.

  • Having larger brains than cows, their acclimation to our invisible fences and behavior modifiers had to be more gradual and less painful, but every bit as effective.

  • I wonder how many of these systems have a "master lock" pattern to do servicing and such

    all it would take is a kid wearing contacts with this to do some very fun damage.

    "Okay Bobbi after you get inside run to the west hall service office and then type %this string% into the computer"

  • by PrimaryConsult (1546585) on Friday July 12, 2013 @01:32PM (#44263617)

    When you can't lend a guest your ID card to run down to x and grab y, or run back to your room to grab z, all it does is encourage door propping. My college allowed access to neighboring residence halls during daytime hours precisely because of this (if access is granted legitimately less people will bother propping doors). Trying things like door alarms when they're held open too long simply results in more creative and difficult to fix door props (like crazy-gluing cardboard over the door latch, or welding a penny over it).

    I once worked with someone in an ID card center who would almost never deny anyone card access to additional buildings. The reason? They're going to find a way into the building anyway, and if it was via a card it will at least be logged (and even if it was a borrowed card, it at least points to a person as a starting point if an investigation is needed).

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