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This paper outlines the people views of actual security of biometric authentication and encryption systems. The attractiveness of some novel approaches like cryptographic key generation from biometric data is in some respect understandable, yet so far has lead to various shortcuts and compromises on security. This paper starts with an introductory section that is followed by a section about variability of biometric characteristics, with a particular attention paid to biometrics used in large systems. The following sections then discuss the potential for biometric authentication systems and for the use of biometrics in support of cryptographic applications as they are typically used in computer systems.
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