CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present patent application is a continuation-in-part of, and claims priority from, the commonly assigned co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/332,017 entitled “MULTIPLATFORM INDEPENDENT BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM” filed Jan. 11, 2006, which in turn is a continuation-in-part of, and claims priority from, the commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 6,993,659 entitled “INDEPENDENT BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM” filed Apr. 23, 2002. The present patent application additionally claims priority from the commonly assigned co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/792,365, entitled “SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PLATFORM-INDEPENDENT BIOMETRICALLY SECURE INFORMATION TRANSFER”, filed Apr. 14, 2006.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to a system and method for biometrically verifying and securing transfer of information between two or more parties, and more particularly to a system and method for providing various advantageous biometrically-enhanced platform-independent features to the process of information transfer between two or more parties.
In the last decade, the rapidly decreasing cost of computers, coupled with simultaneous performance gains, as well as the growing availability of inexpensive access to high speed telecommunications, have resulted in a dramatic jump in the installed base of computers and broadband telecommunication connections both in consumer and commercial areas.
The proliferation of computers and low-cost high-speed telecommunications, also led to an ever-growing increase in the amount of information exchanged between various parties, within and between circles of individuals ranging from social groups (friends, family), to government, educational and corporate organizations.
In addition, the explosive growth of versatile personal communication devices (such as, for example, cellular telephones equipped with a myriad of functions) has arguably eclipsed the above-noted rise in availability of computers with high speed telecommunication connections. With each month, new personal communication options become available to consumer and organizational users, most often embodied in mobile telephones that are smaller, more powerful, and with a more impressive list of features, than comparable models released mere weeks ago.
Not surprisingly, these trends have led to an unprecedented escalation in demand for solutions related to secure transmission of information between various parties (e.g., electronic data transmissions, voice communications, etc.), and also for solutions related to controlling access to secured stored content (e.g., ranging from personal information, such as photographs, to content generated and owned by corporate, government and educational organizations).
For decades, and continuing to present day, the primary solution to securing transmission of information between parties using electronic devices, has been to enable the sending party to encrypt transmitted information, and, at the same time, provide the receiving party with the ability to decrypt and access the sent information. One popular approach to securing electronic data, transmission involves the use of PGP (or “pretty good privacy”) encryption, with appropriate PGP keys being exchanged between the parties prior to data transmission, and later used to achieve encryption, and subsequent decryption, of transmitted data. Similar security measures have also been the typical approach taken to secure access to stored content, where the access to content (encrypted or otherwise) is controlled by a password, or other form of access code, provided to the party authorized to gain access thereto.
However, the above solutions have significant drawbacks. First, and most important, is the fact that none of the previously known encryption techniques enabled the parties involved in information transfer therebetween, to authenticate the identity of the party sending the information, as the source of the transmission, and also to authenticate the identity of the recipient, to confirm that the transmitted information was accessed by the specific identified party to which it was addressed, rather that by anyone having access to the receiving party's communication device and/or access code (e.g., username/password).
The same challenge is present in the field of content access control, where anyone can use a stolen, or otherwise misappropriated, access code (e.g., username/password) to gain unauthorized access to secured content. Additionally, the process of exchange, and/or provision, of PGP key information, is complex and cumbersome—a deterrent to the use of conventional encryption/decryption technologies for most parties outside government and corporate sectors.
One attempt to address the above challenges was the proposed utilization of biometric access control systems by the sending and receiving party to authenticate the identity of the sending and receiving party. The use of biometric technologies has previously gained some acceptance in the field of content access control, and so, application of such technologies to the goal of securing data transmission was a reasonable approach.
Biometrics is a field of technology aimed at utilizing one or more unique personal characteristics of an individual, ranging, for example from their fingerprints to their hand vein pattern, odor, iris image, or their DNA, to authenticate their identity. Biometric technologies are typically of two types—passive and active. Passive biometrics either do not require the individual who's identity is being verified to do anything other than to enable a certain biometric characteristic to be acquired by the system (e.g., by placing a finger on a fingerprint scanner, by looking into a retinal scanner, or by looking in the direction of a facial scanner). Active biometrics require the individual who's identity is being verified to perform one or more predetermined actions in order to enable the system to acquire the representation of one or more appropriate biometric characteristics (e.g., by providing a signature, by speaking, by squeezing a certain object, etc.). Certain types of biometric systems may incorporate a combination of active and passive biometric approaches. The various types of biometric systems are discussed in greater detail in the commonly assigned co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/332,017 entitled “MULTIPLATFORM INDEPENDENT BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM”, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
While certainly appearing to address one of the key challenges of securing information transfer, biometric access control systems suffer from a number of serious disadvantages that have prevented their widespread use, and that have effectively stunted their growth in most areas outside of physical access control and local computer access control applications. To understand these disadvantages, it is useful to provide an overview of previously known biometric access control system operations.
A biometric access control system (also interchangeably referred to herein as “biometric identity verification system”), typically includes two main components—a physical device of some sort to actively, and/or passively, acquire predetermined biometric information, and program instructions (such as a software application, embedded in the device, installed on the computer connected to the device, or a combination of both), for managing the operation of the device, and for providing biometric recognition technology that enables utilization of the device to authenticate the identity of one or more individuals previously “enrolled” in the system when the individual presents the appropriate biometric information to the device.
Each individual authorized to use a biometric access control system, is first “enrolled” (i.e., registered) in the system, so that the system can acquire particular biometric information from the individual in accordance with a predetermined enrollment protocol (for example, requiring the individual to provide the same, or similar, biometric information several times, etc.). The acquired biometric enrollment information is then transformed, in accordance with one or more proprietary technologies, into a “recognition template” (or equivalent logical data structure), representative of the acquired biometric information, and then optionally optimized for use with the appropriate biometric recognition algorithms.
During a later authentication attempt, biometric information, of the same specific type as was originally enrolled (e.g., left index finger fingerprint, right iris, etc.), is presented to the biometric device, then acquired and transformed into a template, and finally compared to the enrolled stored recognition template, to determine a match, in accordance with one or more recognition criteria (for example a “recognition threshold”, representative of the allowable degree of difference between the enrolled template, and the presented template, for successful authentication thereof), and therefore to authenticate the identity of the presenting individual. The two main reasons for using stored recognition templates are: (1) as a requirement for using biometric recognition algorithms during the authentication process; and (2) to ensure that actual acquired biometric information is never stored for security purposes.
The key disadvantage, crippling the use of biometrics as a broad scalable secure information transfer and access control solution, has been the combination of (1) availability of several hundred different biometric devices of various types flooding the market (with the amount of devices growing each year) and (2) the fact that in a vast majority of cases, the available biometric devices, even of the same type (e.g., fingerprint scanners) are incompatible with one another. Each of these devices uses their own biometric software (although several device manufacturers share a similar core biometric information acquisition device and biometric recognition algorithms), and during enrollment creates a biometric recognition template specific to the device. In addition, the enrollment recognition template may be stored in the biometric device, in the computer to which the device is connected, in a different computer connected thereto, or in one or more of the above, depending on the device model. As a result, the enrolled individual must always utilize the specific type and model of biometric device and the specific computer (or computer network) where they originally enrolled.
Another devastating shortcoming of previously known biometric systems, flowing from general incompatibility of biometric devices, from different manufacturers, is the fact without any clear unifying standard, the only way for parties to truly use a biometric technology solution for verifying the identity of the sending and/or receiving party, and for securing information transfer therebetween (as opposed to using biometrics as a password replacement supplement to conventional security measures), is for all parties to acquire and use the same compatible model and type of biometric device. This is a serious drawback, because commitment to utilization of a specific type and brand of biometric identity verification device, requires a significant degree of collusion and common agreement between many individuals that intend to use the system.
In addition, the issue of compatibility and uniformity is particularly problematic for any large scale implementation of a system for verifying and securing information transfer. The requirement that all parties in a large organization involved in developing and, more importantly, using the system, to cooperate and coordinate biometric device acquisition and uniform installation, to ensure that everyone involved is using the same biometric devices equipped with compatible biometric recognition software, is very burdensome and a significant barrier to implementation of such systems.
And, if a particular biometric device in such a system is later replaced with another biometric device using a biometric recognition template incompatible with the original biometric device, all of the devices in the system must be replaced to maintain compatibility therebetween, and all individuals using those devices must be re-enrolled with the new devices. As a result, the previously known approaches for using biometrics in this manner also
Similar issues exist with respect to use of biometrics to control access to content—all involved parties must use a biometric device that is compatible with the system providing biometric access control to the content, and similarly are limited to using the same type and model of biometric device, and only at the computers (or computer networks) where they previously enrolled.
While the above-incorporated U.S. patent application Ser. No. '017 provided a solution to interoperable utilization of different types of biometric devices in the same group of users (for example, the users of a local or wide area network), it did not specifically address all of the issues involved in applying the disclosed techniques to the purpose of using biometrics to secure and authenticate transmission and receipt of information transferred between various parties.
Thus, none of the previously known biometric security approaches enable parties to verify and secure the transfer of information therebetween, utilizing any biometric identity verification system available to each party, without regard to the biometric identity verification system (or systems) utilized by the other party or parties.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
It would thus be desirable to provide a system and method for transferring secured information, between parties, while enabling authentication of identities of at least one of, the party sending the information, and the party, or parties, receiving and/or accessing the received information, with each party being able to utilize one or more biometric identity verification systems of their choice, independently of the other party. It would further be desirable to provide a system and method for restricting access to content to one or more specific identified individuals, where each identified individual is able to utilize one or more biometric identity verification systems of their choice, independently of the access control system being used, and independently of the biometric identity verification systems being utilized by other identified individuals (if any). It would additionally be desirable, to provide a system and method for tracking and biometrically verifying various data relating to previously conducted information transfer between parties, whether such transfer occurred through transmission of information therebetween, or by one party allowing access to secured content to one or more other, biometrically verified, parties.
In the drawings, wherein like reference characters denote corresponding or similar elements throughout the various figures:
FIG. 1A shows a block diagram of a first exemplary embodiment of the inventive secure information transfer management (SITM) system, that enables verifying and securing information transfer between parties, through platform-independent identity verification;
FIG. 1B shows a block diagram of an alternate exemplary embodiment of the inventive SITM system of FIG. 1;
FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a second exemplary embodiment of the inventive SITM system, that enables verifying and securing information transfer between parties, through platform-independent identity verification;
FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of a third exemplary embodiment of the inventive SITM system, that enables verifying and securing information transfer between parties, through platform-independent identity verification;
FIG. 4 shows a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the inventive SITM system; that enables verifying and securing information transfer between parties, through platform-independent identity verification;
FIG. 5 shows a logic flow diagram of an exemplary embodiment of a process of implementing and utilizing the SITM system of FIGS. 1A-3; and
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 6 shows a logic flow diagram of an exemplary embodiment of a process of implementing and utilizing the SITM system of FIG. 4.
The inventive data processing system and method enable secure transfer of information between two or more parties, each having access to at least one identity verification system, utilizing a platform-independent architecture to enable the sending and receiving parties to verify transmission and receipt of secured (e.g., encrypted) information, and/or to control access by one party to information secured by another party, regardless of the type, model, ownership, and/or quantity of biometric identity verification (BIV) systems being utilized by each party.
In one embodiment of the inventive system and method, parties desiring to securely transfer information between one another, register at a central independent biometric security management (IBSM) system, and each provide one or more biometric enrollments that are stored by the IBSM system in their unique record. Thereafter, the inventive system also enables any registered party to send biometrically (and otherwise) secured information to the other party utilizing any available BIV system (or systems) that is compatible with one or more of their registered biometric enrollments stored in their IBSM system record, regardless of BIV system ownership, and without requiring local enrollment. Thus, registered users can advantageously utilize a compatible BIV system of any information transfer device capable of communication with the IBSM system.
In another embodiment of the inventive system and method, that may be readily utilized on its own, or in conjunction with the previously described embodiment, a party registered with the IBSM system, that owns certain secured content, is able to selectively designate identities of one or more registered parties that are authorized to access the secured content and/or a portion thereof, upon verification of their identity, and, optionally, provide one or more rules of varying complexity to the IBSM system governing such access.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims.
The system and method of the present invention remedy the disadvantages of previously known biometric solutions directed at verifying and securing information transfer between parties, by providing a platform-independent biometric security management system architecture that enables registered parties to securely transfer information therebetween, and verify the identities of the party enabling the transfer (e.g., by transmission of information, or by enabling secured access to stored information), and/or of the recipient party gaining access to the information (e.g., by receiving the information, and/or by accessing secured stored information), utilizing any biometric identity verification system available, regardless of the type, model, and/or ownership, as long as the utilized biometric system is compatible with one or more of their previously registered biometric enrollments.
The inventive system and method achieve the above, and other objectives, by enabling prospective users to register with a centralized independent biometric security management (IBSM) system, and, during the registration process, in addition to providing identifying information (name, contact information, etc.), to also supply one or more biometric enrollments, utilizing one or more biometric identity verification systems available to them. Any registered user is also able to add additional biometric enrollments, from any other biometric identity verification system, at a later time to expand their ability to utilize the inventive system utilizing many different biometric devices.
The novel IBSM system stores the above information in unique records assigned to each individual registered user, and further enables additional information to be stored in the records. For example, the IBSM system advantageously enables a registered user to define preferences for sending secured information to other registered users (such as a selectable list of potential recipients, the need for receipt and/or viewing verification, etc.), as well as to define one or more rules of varying complexity, governing the recipient's access to the transmitted secured information. For example, the sending user can specify a rule, that a particular transmission of information (e.g., electronic mail message with attachment), may only be opened by the intended recipient, if that recipient successfully passes identity verification from two (or more) different biometric identity verification systems (e.g., a fingerprint scanner and a facial scanner), or that two separate recipients must both verify their identity with the IBSM system, in order to access the content of the transmission.
While the inventive system and method are described below in connection with certain drawing figures in exemplary embodiments, as being advantageously configured for use with transfer of electronic information over a communication network (e.g., the Internet or other telecommunications network), it should be understood to one skilled in the art, that the inventive system and method may be readily and advantageously utilized for enabling secured information transfer of any type (audio (e.g., voice), video, sensor information, machine-readable data, etc.), without departing from the spirit of the invention, as a matter of necessity or design choice.
Similarly, while the descriptions of various embodiments of the inventive system and method, interchangeably refer to various data processing systems used in conjunction therewith as “computers”, it should be noted that any system with similar capabilities, necessary for performing the tasks required by the inventive system and method, may readily be used as a matter of necessity or design choice, without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, it is specifically contemplated that a wireless telephone (such as a cellular telephone) with sufficient data processing capabilities may be readily utilized in accordance with the present invention.
Before describing the various embodiments of the inventive system and method, and the components, infrastructure, and operation in greater detail, it would be helpful to provide the definitions of certain terms used in the drawing figures, and in the accompanying descriptions. Table 1 below contains summary of definitions of commonly used terms within the context of the description of the various embodiments of the present invention,
Because the terminology that may be currently utilized to describe the various embodiments of the novel system (and its functionality), evolves and changes rapidly, for the purposes of clarity, and without departing from the spirit of the invention, the various elements, components, infrastructures, and process steps of the inventive system and method, are described in Table 1, and further below, in terms of their required or desired functionality, and/or in terms of objectives they are intended to accomplish, in accordance with the present invention, rather than as specific structural and/or process implementations, which may change in nomenclature with advances in information systems technology.
For example, as computers of various types are well known in the art, it is presumed that any computer used in conjunction with the present invention, will include the typical components necessary for its operation, e.g., one or more CPUs, memory, long term data storage, and, in cases of computers typically utilized by users, one or more input devices, a display, and so on. In addition, because a number of abbreviated terms are used for the sake of convenience in FIGS. 1A
, and further below, Table 1 also provides the definitions of all abbreviated terms used herein.
# Term Definition
1 User/USER A user, for the purposes of the present
invention, is defined as:
1. any party that desires to securely and/or
verifiably transfer information to another
party (or parties), whether by transmission
thereto, or by granting (to the other party
or parties) secured access to content that
includes information, and/or
2. any party that desires to receive secured
and/or verified information from another
party (or parties), whether by transmission
therefrom, or by accessing secured
content, as permitted by the other party (or
Thus, in accordance with the present
invention, users may range from private
individuals, to members of groups of any
type and with any amount of hierarchical
levels and subgroups and that may be readily
overlap with other groups (e.g., groups of
friends, family members, employees of a
corporation, government employees and/or
officials of varying ranks in one or more
agencies, students of a particular university,
2 InfoTr System Information transfer system. For the
purposes of the present invention, an
information transfer (InfoTr) system, is
defined as any system having at least some
of the following characteristics:
1. capability for transmitting information to
at least one other InfoTr system;
2. capability for receiving information from
at least one other InfoTr system;
3. capability for storing data and applications
for issuing instructions, and, in response to
issued instructions, performing tasks
involving data stored therein or provided
thereto, sufficient to enable functionality
necessary for operation of the novel
system and method as described blow in
connection with FIGS. 1A to 6;
4. capability for displaying information
relevant to its operation and the performed
5. capability for communicating with the
IBSM system (see definition below); and
6. capability for receiving instructions from
In accordance with the present invention, the
term “InfoTr system” can also refer to a
collection of two or more interconnected
InfoTr systems (e.g., a local area network)
having the above capabilities individually,
and/or jointly. The InfoTr system preferably
includes an operating environment, and one
or more instruction sets (e.g., program
applications), that provide it with the ability
to execute functions relating to sending and/
or receiving information. By way of
example, for an InfoTr system implemented
as a personal computer, the operating
environment may be an appropriate operating
system, while an exemplary information
transfer instruction set, may be an electronic
mail program. By way of example,
computers ranging from pocket-sized
personal digital assistants (PDAs), and smart
telephones to personal desktop or notebook
computers, to high power servers and server
networks, are the most common exemplary
implementations of InfoTr systems, and, in
most cases, readily possess all the
capabilities necessary for operation as
components of various embodiments of the
inventive system and method. Accordingly,
the InfoTr systems shown in various
embodiments of the present invention, are
preferably computers or advanced
communication devices with appropriate
similar functionality (e.g., wireless/cellular/
satellite telephone, military communicator,
radio transmitter, etc.), with the specific
type, capabilities, and configuration thereof,
being determined as a matter of necessity
and/or design choice. However, it should
be noted that any system, even if falling
outside the conventional definition of a
“computer” or communication device, may
be utilized as a InfoTr system in accordance
with the present invention, without departing
from the spirit of the invention, as long as
such a system posses the necessary
capabilities selected from (1) to (6) above.
3 BIVS Biometric identity verification system (See
FIG. 1A and accompanying description)
4 BIVD Biometric identity verification device (See
FIG. 1B and accompanying description)
5 BIVA Biometric identity verification application
(See FIG. 1B and accompanying description)
6 EDA Encryption/decryption application. For the
purposes of the present invention, an EDA is
a set of instructions, for example embodied
in a program application executable by an
InfoTr system, and/or by the IBSM system,
or as a module to another application (e.g.,
the application responsible for transmission
of information), capable of encrypting and/or
decrypting electronic information in any
form. Advantageously, any type of EDA,
whether currently available, or developed in
the future, may be readily in conjunction
with the inventive system and method
without departing from the spirit of the
invention. In one embodiment of the
inventive system and method, during
encryption of information to be transmitted,
the EDA utilizes at least a portion of the
UBIV_Element (see definition below) of the
user of the InfoTr system sending the
7 Information/Data/ As defined herein, information, data, or
Content content, may be of any type and in any
number of formats that can be, in whole or in
part, transmitted, interacted with (e.g.,
viewed, modified, reviewed, etc.), generated,
acquired, analyzed, deleted, reviewed, and/or
otherwise processed by an InfoTr system.
For example, information may include, but is
not limited to, one or more of the following:
text, images, audio, video, transactional
information, instrument or sensor readings
(e.g., medical, scientific, military), links to
other data, executable programs and
supporting files, etc. Additionally, data may
be static, interactive, or a combination of
both. While it may be used interchangeably
with “information” or “data”, the term
“content”preferably represents certain
desirable information that is of interest to
one or more parties, access to which is
controlled by one or more parties.
8 SIT Secured information transmission (See FIG.
1A and accompanying description)
9 IBSM System Independent biometric security management
system. (See FIG. 1A and accompanying
10 SITM system Secure information transfer management
system - the system of the present invention,
at a minimum including two InfoTr systems,
each accessed by a user, and each capable of
communication with an inventive IBSM
system, and optionally of communication
between one another, that, in at least one
inventive embodiment, can be utilized by
users to securely transfer information
between one another, and to verify identity
of transmitting user, as well as to verify the
identity of the user receiving and accessing
11 Communication Link As defined herein, a communication link is
preferably any form of a communication
connection between the various components
of the inventive SITM system (e.g., InfoTr
systems, the IBSM system, etc.), that enables
data transmission of the appropriate types of
Thus, each communication link may include,
but is not limited to, one or more of the
following, in any combination: direct
telecommunication line(s), wireless link(s)
(e.g., satellite uplink, radio, cellular, wi-fi,
etc.), and communication network(s) (such
as a LAN (local area network), a WAN
(wide area network), or the Internet).
12 USER_Record Record stored in IBSM System
representative of the user's UBIV_Element
and additional information. (See FIG. 1A
and accompanying description)
13 UBIV_Element User biometric identity verification element.
(See FIG. 1A and accompanying description)
14 SIT_Profile Secured information transfer profile. (See
FIG. 1A and accompanying description)
15 SIT_Log Secured information transfer log. (See FIG.
1A and accompanying description)
16 SCA_Profile Secured content access profile (See FIG. 4
and accompanying description)
17 CA_Record Content access record (See FIG. 4 and
18 Recipient_INFO Information identifying the specific user (or
users) as intended recipient(s) of SIT being
sent by a user. (See FIG. 5 and
19 Sender_BIVE Sender biometric identity verification
element (See FIG. 5 and accompanying
20 Recipient_BIVE Recipient biometric identity verification
element (See FIG. 5 and accompanying
It should be noted, that the specific numbers of users, and corresponding InfoTr systems shown in the various FIGS. 1A to 4, are provided by way of example only. Because the inventive secure information transfer management (SITM) system is completely scalable, it may be used in configurations ranging from as few as two users, to as many as practically possible, as a matter of design choice or convenience, without departing from the spirit of the invention.
Referring now to FIG. 1, a first exemplary embodiment of the inventive SITM system 10 is shown. The SITM system 10 enables secure and verifiable transfer of information between at least two users 20 and 30 (see Table 1, definition #1). Each of the users 20, 30 preferably operates a corresponding information transfer (InfoTr) system 22, 32 (for example a computer or mobile communication device), capable of transmitting information to other InfoTr systems of the same, or of different type and/or configuration. Thus, for example, each of the InfoTr systems 22 and 32 may be of a different type—InfoTr system 22 may be a personal computer, while InfoTr system 32 may be a smart mobile communication device.
Each of the InfoTr systems 22, 32 preferably includes a corresponding encryption/decryption application (EDA) 24, 34, respectively (see Table 1, definition #6), for enabling each of the users 20, 30 to secure and verify information transferred therebetween (for example by encrypting it at for transmission and then decrypting it when received and accessed, upon recipient identity verification).
Each of the InfoTr systems 22, 32 includes, or has ready access to, a corresponding biometric identity verification system (BIVS) 26, 36. As discussed in greater detail above, in connection with the background of the present invention, a BIVS utilizes one or more unique personal characteristics of a user registered therewith, to verify their identity. As discussed in greater detail below in connection with FIG. 1B, a BIVS typically includes a biometric identity verification device (BIVD) for acquiring biometric information from a user, and a corresponding biometric identity verification application (BIVA) for controlling the operation of the BIVD, and for enabling the acquired biometric characteristics to be used for identity verification.
In accordance with the present invention, each of the BIVS 26, 36 may be any type of BIVS whatsoever. Advantageously, the BIVS 26, 36 do not need to be compatible with one another. Thus, the BIVS 26 may be a fingerprint scanner, while the BIVS 36 may be a facial recognition system. Preferably, each BIVS 26, 36 is capable of “enrolling” (i.e., registering) one or more users (e.g. users 20, 30), and generating a corresponding user biometric identity verification element (UBIV_Element), representative of the biometric information acquired by the BIVD and processed for use in future user identity verification (e.g., by creating a recognition template, or otherwise). In previously known biometric security systems, a user's UBIV_Element is typically stored in one or more of the BIVS, the InfoTr system connected thereto, or, in client-server configurations, on a separate central InfoTr system.
The SITM system 10 also includes an independent biometric security management (IBSM) system 60, which is the key component of the present invention. The IBSM system 60, is preferably an data processing system (such as one or more computers (e.g. a server, or network of servers)), capable of communicating and interacting with as many different InfoTr, and BIVS types, models and configurations as is practicable or, at a minimum, as many as is required by the desired SITM system 10 configuration, capacity, and intended use.
The SITM system 10 also includes a communication link 40, for enabling communication between the InfoTr system 22 and the InfoTr system 32, a communication link 42 for enabling communication between the InfoTr system 22 and the IBSM system 60, and a communication link 44 for enabling communication between the InfoTr system 32 and the IBSM system 60 (see Table 1, definition #11). One or more of the communication links 40, 42, 44 may be different from one another, or they may all be the same. For example, the communication link 40 may be a wireless voice telecommunication link, while communication link 44 is a broadband land telecommunication line and the communication link 44 is a wireless data communication link. Or, all of the communication links 40, 42, 44 may be the Internet.
Prior to utilization of the inventive SITM system 10, each user desiring to take advantage of the advantageous SITM system 10 functionality (e.g. each of the users 20, 30), performs a registration process, that, at a minimum, involves the following:
- (1) providing certain predetermined personal identifying information (e.g. name, address, etc.);
- (2) verification of that information (by third party confirmation, in case of certain types of users (corporate or government employees, etc.), or by other well known reliable identity verification approaches;
- (3) storing the provided information (and optionally the source of verification) in a corresponding record for each user (USER_Record) in the IBSM system 60. Optionally, if the user is already biometrically registered at their InfoTr system through the corresponding BIVS (e.g., if the user 20 previously used BIVS 26 to enroll on their InfoTr system 22), and the IBSM system 60 is appropriately configured by an authorized administrator, it may accept identity verification based on previous local InfoTr system biometric registration; and
- (4) utilizes their respective BIVS (e.g. BIVS 26 for user 20, and BIVS 36 for user 30) to generate a corresponding UBIV_Element and transmit it for storage via respective communication links (e.g. link 42 for user 20, and link 46 for user 30), to the corresponding USER_Record stored in the IBSM system 60.
Thus, for each user 20, 30, the IBSM system 60 stores an individual unique USER_Record 62, that includes that user's verified identifying information, as well as at least one of their corresponding UBIV_Element(s) 64.
As discussed below in connection with FIG. 2, any user can generate additional UBIV_Elements for their USER_Record, utilizing BIVS of different types, models, and/or configurations, such that their USER_Record stores UBIV_Elements for a variety of BIVSs. This is a crucial advantageous feature of the present invention—because any user registered with the IBSM system 60 is able to verify their identity through any BIVS, even one which they never used, or one that is part of another user's InfoTr system, if it is capable of utilizing any of the UBIV_Elements stored in the USER_Record.
This feature enables the IBSM system 60 to be truly “platform-independent” with respect to compatibility with various InfoTr and BIVS types, models, and configurations. For example, a user 50, previously registered with the IBSM system 60, and having a UBIV_Element compatible with the BIVS 36 stored in their USER_Record, is able to utilize the InfoTr System 32 and the BIVS 36 of the user 30, to verifiably exchange secured information with other registered users, for example, with another user 46, that may have access to the InfoTr system 22.
Thus, preferably, the IBSM system 60 may be scaled to any necessary capacity, and provided with all necessary components (hardware and/or software), to enable it to readily communicate, and interact with, the various InfoTr systems, BIVS, and other components of the inventive SITM system (as illustrated, by way of example, for SITM systems 10 of FIG. 1A, 70 of FIG. 1B, 100, of FIG. 2, 200 of FIG. 3, and 300 of FIG. 4).
It should also be noted that, the “Independent Biometric Security Server” disclosed in the above-incorporated U.S. patent application Ser. No. '017, may be readily and advantageously configured for use as a IBSM system 60. Optionally, any other data processing system capable of similar or equivalent biometric platform-independent functionality to the “Independent Biometric Security Server” may be readily utilized as the IBSM system 60, as a matter of design choice, without departing from the spirit of the invention.
Additionally, as long as the above-described minimum IBSM system 60 registration steps are followed, any user can readily utilize another user's InfoTr system and BIVS to register, as long as independent verification of the user's identity is available to finalize registration.
In accordance with the present invention, the users 20, 30 utilize the IBSM system 60 during transfer of a secured information transmission (SIT) 52, between InfoTr systems 22 and 32, over the communication link 40, to verify identities of the sending user (e.g., user 20), as well as the identity of the user receiving and accessing the SIT 52 (e.g., user 30). In addition, the IBSM system 60 may be advantageously utilized as part of the SIT 52 generation process (e.g. when the information to be transferred is encrypted or otherwise secured) by the EDA 24, and then accessed (e.g., decrypted) by the EDA 34.
In an alternate embodiment of the invention, in addition to, or instead of one or both of the EDA 24, 34, the IBSM system 60 may include an optional EDA 68, that performs all, or some, of the tasks necessary for generating and accessing the SIT 52. Additionally, rather than being transferred through the communication link 40, in yet another alternate embodiment of the invention, the SIT 52 may be readily transmitted between InfoTr systems 22 and 32 through the IBSM system 60 via the communication links 42, 44.
In summary, in one of its simplest implementations, the inventive SITM system 10 operates as follows: the user 20, desiring to transmit certain information to the user 30, indicates, to the IBSM system 60, themselves as the sender, and the user 30 as the intended recipient. The user 20 then provides biometric information to the IBSM system 60 through their BIVS 24, which is processed and compared to a compatible UBIV_Element stored in their USER_Record, to verify the identity of the user 20. The information to be transferred is then encrypted to generate the SIT 52 (optionally utilizing at least a portion of one or both of the UBIV_Element of the sending user 20, and the UBIV_Element of the receiving user 30). The SIT 52 is then transmitted to the user 30, and upon receipt by the InfoTr system 32, to access the information in the SIT 52, the user 30 must verify their identity to the IBSM system 60, by providing biometric information thereto through the BIVS 36, that, when processed, is successfully matched to a compatible UBIV_Element stored in the USER_Record of the user 30 (optionally in accordance with predetermined biometric recognition criteria (e.g., threshold, etc.), that may have been present in the IBSM system 60, or that may have been specified by the sending user 20 to the IBSM system 60, for the SIT 52, or for all of user 20 data transfers).
When the identity of the user 30 is verified as the intended recipient, the IBSM system 60 enables the EDA 34 to decrypt the SIT 52 thus allowing the user 30 to access the transferred information, while optionally recording the access event, and optionally notifying user 20 of the verification of the access by the designated recipient (user 30). An exemplary detailed embodiment of a process for the operation of the SITM system 10 for secured and verified information transmission is shown in FIG. 5, and described in detail below in connection therewith.
In accordance with the present invention, the sending user may be given the ability to have significant control over the manner in which their transferred secured information is accessed by the recipient, for example, defining one or more criteria (e.g., in form of rules), that must be met for the recipient user to gain access to the information. For example, the user 20 can specify that in order to access information in SIT 52, both the user 30, and another user 48, must verify their identities to the IBSM system 60, (e.g., both through the BIVS 36, or with each user utilizing their own BIVS). Alternately, the user 20 can specify that the user 30 must utilize two separate BIVS of different types, or to utilize their BIVS 36 in conjunction with another from of security, such as a password or a PIN code. Optionally, the user 20 can set their SIT 52 to expire, or otherwise be erased, if the user 30 does not access it during a specified period of time.
Additionally, a user can specify the amount and detail level of information, about the events relating to the secured data to be tracked and/or recorded by the IBSM system 60. For example, the user 20 can specify that they want notification of delivery of SIT 52, notification of user 30 acknowledging receipt of SIT 52, and notification when user 30 accesses the information therein (as well as notification of any failed attempts to access the information).
Optionally, each user's preferences relating to transfer of secured information, and for tracking events related thereto, can be stored in their USER_Record, for example as secured information transmission profile (SIT_Profile) (shown as optional SIT_Profile 66 a in FIG. 1A) for storing information relating to the user's preferences relating to transfer of secured information, and/or as secured information transmission log (SIT_Log) (shown as optional SIT_Log 66 b in FIG. 1A), for storing information indicative of the user's preferences relating to tracking events related to secured information transfers. Optionally, both SIT_Profile and SIT_Log may be presented in a unified format.
Advantageously, from the point of view of a user, the interface for necessary interaction with the various components of the SITM system 10, and especially with the IBSM system 60, may be implemented as a separate program application, or function, of a user's InfoTr system, or as a communication portal accessible by the users' InfoTr system (for example, a secure website). Optionally, the SITM system 10, and its components, may be implemented transparently in the background, for example, as components, modules or “plug-ins” for existing applications/functions of the user's InfoTr system, such that a user can continue to utilize their preferred information transfer applications/functionality, while gaining the full benefit of the SITM system 10. In any implementation of the novel SITM system, the registered users may gain access to IBSM system functionality through an appropriate identity verification or “login” procedure, that may optionally be integrated into the process of initiating secure information transmission or information access.
In addition, while a less secure implementation than described above, in an alternate embodiment of the SITM system 10, each InfoTr system can perform User identity verification locally, and, rather than transmitting newly acquired UBIV_Elements to the IBSM system 60 for centralized identity verification, each InfoTr system can simply indicate the status of the local verification to the IBSM system 60.
Referring now to FIG. 5, an exemplary embodiment of a process 400 for secured transmission of information utilizing the inventive SITM system (for example, the SITM system 10 of FIG. 1A) is shown. As noted above, as a matter of design choice, the various steps of this process may be executed by different components of the various embodiments of the inventive SITM system shown in FIGS. 1A to 3.
The process 400 begins at a step 402, where a sending user (hereinafter “Sender”), registered with the IBSM system component of the inventive SITM system, decides to transmit secured information to one or more other registered users of the SITM system (hereinafter “Recipient”). At a step 404, the Sender generates Recipient_INFO, to identify the Recipient selected at step 402, and that may optionally include one or more rules, for example, from a Sender SIT_Profile, relating to requirements that must be met by the Recipient to gain access to the secured information, but at a minimum requiring biometric verification of the Recipient's identity.
At a step 406, the Recipient_INFO is transmitted to the IBSM system (or simply passed to the appropriate component thereof, if step 404 was being performed at the IBSM system), optionally, along with Sender_BIVE (Sender biometric identity verification element, representative of biometric information provided by the Sender), that enables the IBSM system 60 to verify the identity of the Sender, both for internal security purposes, and optionally for provision of that verified information to the Recipient. At a step 408, the process 400 verifies the Sender_BIVE (and optionally updates the Sender SIT_Log, if any), at a step 410, generates a SIT (e.g., by encrypting information to be transmitted), and at a step 412, transmits the SIT to the Recipient.
At a step 414, upon receipt of the SIT, the process 400 requests the Recipient to verify their identity, in accordance with the requirements sent forth by the Sender in Recipient_INFO (e.g., by presenting their BIVS with biometric information to enable it to generate a corresponding Recipient_BIVE—Recipient biometric identity verification element, representative of biometric information provided by the Recipient). The Recipient_BIVE is then transmitted, at a step 416, to the IBSM system, and verified against the Recipient's UBIV_Element (in addition to any other verifications that may have been required by the Recipient_INFO). Assuming the verification criteria in the Recipient_INFO has been met, at a step 418, the SIT is decrypted and the Recipient is given access to information therein. At an optional step 420, the process 400 optionally verifies to Sender that Recipient has received and accessed the SIT, and optionally updates the Sender's SIT_Log and/or the Recipient's SIT_Log, with the results of one or more of the previously performed steps.
Referring now to FIG. 1B, an alternate embodiment of the inventive SITM system is shown as a SITM system 70. The SITM system 70 operates substantially similarly to the SITM system 10 of FIG. 1A, with the various components thereof having like reference characters, except that the functionality of the BIVS 26 and 36, is implemented in a different manner. Rather than each InfoTr system 22, 32 having access to a full featured BIVS, they each include a respective biometric identity verification device (BIVS) 72, 74 only, each with sufficient application functionality to enable it to acquire appropriate biometric information, and provide it, preferably in encrypted form, to the IBSM system 60. Each BIVD 72, 74 serves as the physical device responsible for acquiring one or more specific biometric characteristics of the user. Examples of a BIVD include, but are not limited to: a fingerprint scanner, palm scanner, vein scanner, facial recognition scanner, iris scanner, retinal scanner, signature acquisition device, voice acquisition device, etc.
The IBSM system 60, as implemented in the SITM system 70, is supplied with a centralized biometric identity verification application (BIVA) 76 that performs all necessary functions necessary to generate UBIV_Elements from information received from BIVDs 72, 74, and appropriate functionality to perform necessary biometric identity verification, and any other required security measures. Other that as noted above, the SITM system 70 operates in a manner similar to the SITM system 10 of FIG. 1A.
Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, exemplary embodiments of the novel SITM system, having more complex implementations that shown in FIG. 1A, but operating on the same novel principles, are shown. Referring first to FIG. 2, a SITM system 100 is shown, that includes all of the components of the SITM system 10 shown in FIG. 1 and described in connection therewith, but that also includes an additional BIVS 102 provided to the InfoTr system 32, and optionally yet another standalone separate BIVS 104, that may also be provided thereto, shown as an example to illustrate that the user 30 may register all three BIVS 36, 102, 104 with the IBSM system 60 and then utilize any of the registered BIVS for necessary identity verification therewith.
Similarly, as another example, a user 112, having an InfoTr system 114, may be provided with a separate BIVS/EDA standalone security device 116, capable of performing the functions of a BIVS 120 and of an EDA 118, which may be local to the user 112, or which the user 112 may utilize through a communication link 122 (for example, if the device 116 is a voice recognition based device, the user 112 may contact the device 116 though their InfoTr system 114 and provide the necessary voice sample). In one example of utilization of the SITM system 100, the user 20 may transfer the SIT 52 to the user 30 with one set of Recipient_INFO (see Process 400, FIG. 5), and also send the same SIT 52 to the user 112, with a different Recipient_INFO.
Referring now to FIG. 3, a SITM system 200 is shown, that includes all of the components of the SITM systems 10 (FIG. 1) and 100 (FIG. 2), but that also includes an additional group of users, shown as a private network 202. The private network 202 may include an InfoTr server 204 (e.g. a robust computer, such as a server, or group of servers) equipped with an EDA 206, and additional users 208, 214 having corresponding InfoTr systems 210, 122, supplied with corresponding BIVSs 212, 218, and optional EDAs 220, 222. In the SITM system 200, certain functionality of the individual InfoTr systems of the users, and/or of the IBSM system 60 may be taken over by the InfoTr server 204. For example, the InfoTr server 204 may utilize a powerful EDA 206 to perform all decryption operations (upon successful recipient identity verification) on a SIT 232, sent by the user 112, arriving to the private network 202 via a communication link 230, and designated for one, or both, of the users 208, 214, and/or also perform the encryption operations on a SIT 228, sent, from the private network 202 via a communication link 226, to the user 20 by one of the users 208, 214.
Referring now to FIG. 4, an alternate embodiment of the inventive SITM system of FIG. 1 that enables registered users to control and verify access to stored content by other parties by specifying one or more other registered users, and optionally by specifying one or more criteria for accessing certain content (similarly to as described above in connection with access to information in the SITs). The users 20 and 30, as well as their respective InfoTr systems 22, 32, EDAs 24, 34, and BIVSs 26, 36, are as described above in connection with FIG. 1A. Similarly, the additional users 330 and 340 shown by way of example, have access to their respective InfoTr systems 332, 342, EDAs 334, 344, and BIVSs 336, 346, and may communicate with the IBSM system 60 via respective communication links 350, 352. All of the InfoTr systems 22, 32, 332, 324, are able to communicate with a content system 302 via respective communication links 354, 356, 358 and 360. As noted above, in connection with FIG. 1, the various communication links shown in FIG. 4 may be similar to at least some of the other links, or may be all of the same configuration (e.g., the Internet).
The content system 302 preferably includes at least one item of content (see Table 1, definition #7), with three content items 304, 306, and 308, being shown by way of example. A particular user who owns, or is authorized to control access to, a particular content item or items, creates a secure content access profile (SCA_Profile) that may be stored with the content item, or at the IBSM system 60, and that provides criteria for accessing the content item, that may be as simple or as complex as the user chooses. For example, if the user 20 owns content 304, they may specify in a SCA_Profile 310 that only users 30 and 344 may access the content item 304 upon successful identity verification by the IBSM system 60, and that the access granted to the user 330 expires after 10 days of being granted.
In another example, if the user 30 controls access to the content item 306 which includes separate content items 312, 314 (while two are shown by way of example, a content item may include an unlimited number of other content items in a flat or a hierarchical architecture), with the user 30 defining separate SCA_Profiles 316, 318 therefor, or defining different access rules for each separate content item 312, 314 in one SCA_Profile.
In yet another example, the user 330, may define multiple SCA_Profiles 320 for content item 308, for example, based on time, specific authorized access users, and/or on other criteria. In addition, content item 308 (and of course any other content item), may include an optional content access record (CA_Record) 322, that includes information related to access to the content item, and optionally, related to failed access attempts.
Optionally, in one embodiment of the inventive SITM system 300, the IBSM system 60 and the content system 302 may be implemented as a single system 364. This may be advantageous in applications where a large amount of content items are to be managed, and/or where there is a large quantity of complex SCA_Profiles, and/or when content items are encrypted—i.e. in situations that may require an IBSM system 60 dedicated to supporting the content system. Alternately, the content system 302 may be implemented in a particular user's own InfoTr system. Of course, it should also be noted, that the functionality described in connection with the SITM system 300 may be readily combined with SITM systems 10, 70, 100, and 200, described above in connection with FIGS. 1A, 1B, 2, and 3, respectively, because any embodiment of the novel SITM system can readily support both functionality related to verified secure information transmission, as well as to secured access control.
In an alternate embodiment of the invention, the same principles of SITM system 300 implementation as are described above in their application to content access control, may be readily extended to include physical access control, whether location based (e.g., door), or item based (e.g., a safe, a computer).
Referring finally, to FIG. 6, an exemplary embodiment of a process 500 for demonstrating the process of secured content access utilizing the inventive SITM system (for example, the SITM system 300 of FIG. 4) is shown. As a matter of design choice, the various steps of this process may be executed by different components of the inventive SITM system 300 of FIG. 4.
The process 500 may begin at an optional step 502, where user may provide one or more content items to a content system to be secured. If the content item (or items) to be secured is already present on the content system, the process 500 beings at a step 504, where the user creates a SCA_Profile that provides criteria for accessing the content item by one or more other parties, registered with the IBSM system component of the inventive SITM system. At an optional step 506, the process 500 encrypts the user's content item (this step is optional because it is possible to control access to content without encrypting it).
At a step 508, a different user attempts to access secured content, and at a step 510, transmits, biometric information acquired through their BIVS in form of a User_BIVE to the IBSM system (along with any other information that may be required by the SCA_Profile), whereupon, the IBSM system verifies the supplied User_BIVE (and other information, if any), against the UBIV_Element of the user.
Upon successful verification, at a step 512, the user is granted access to the content item in accordance with the rules specified in the SCA_Profile for that content item (if any were defined). At an optional step 514, the process 500 records events relating to various steps thereof in the CA_Record of the content item.
Finally, it should also be noted, that while the various above-described embodiments of the novel SITM system provide for securing (e.g., encrypting) the transferred information between the parties, the inventive system and method may also be readily utilized for sender and/or recipient identity verification only, without the transferred information being secured in any way. This alternate embodiment of the inventive system and method may be advantageous for applications where security and control of access to transferred data is not important, but where verification of identity of the sender and/or of the recipient accessing the information, is necessary and/or desired.
Thus, while there have been shown and described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that various omissions and substitutions and changes in the form and details of the devices and methods illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements and/or method steps which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.