Science & Technology in Action

7th Edition

Science, Technology and Information Security


In order to protect against terrorism and cyber crime, financial and other forms of transaction must be protected. In addition personal identities must be established accurately. This need has given rise to a new and vital Irish industry, the Information Security Industry. This lesson looks at the encryption of data and discusses the technology of biometrics which uses unique features such as iris patterns and fingerprints to check and verify a person’s identity.

Lesson excerpt

What is the Information Security Industry?
This new and vital industry puts Ireland at the forefront of global effort to protect confidential information and combat cyber crime. With some 50 Irish companies, and many of the biggest multinational IT names involved, the industry offers exciting opportunities for scientists, engineers, mathematicians, programmers, and other ICT technologists. The variety of disciplines involved is illustrated by the number of sectors that make up what is known as the industry ecosystem. In this lesson we look at some of the technologies used for information security purposes.

Keeping Information Secure
To keep information secure it must be protected from any interference and from access by unauthorised persons. This is true whether the information is kept in paper files or on computer systems. However, most security concerns today centre oncomputer systems including the networks that link computers together, of which the internet is a classic example. Data, by which we mean the information, in digital form, is transmitted across these networks and can be very vulnerable to attack. Thedata is usually encrypted (from the Greek word for 'secret') so that, even if hackers break into the system, they would not know what the data means. Authorised persons can transform the information back to its original state by decrypting it. They can only do this if they know the encryption key.

Who Are You?
We are all accustomed to using a PIN to access an ATM when we need money. Also, we know we must have our passports to pass through security checks at an airport. In these, cases, the PIN and the passport are being used for security purposes. In other words, they are accepted as proof of our identity.

Quiz questions

  1. PIN stands for Personal Identification Number. true
  2. It is impossible for someone else to know your PIN. false
  3. Biometrics is the practice of using someone's health record to prove identity. false
  4. Identical twins have the same fingerprints. false
  5. A key is necessary to decrypt encrypted information. true
  6. The iris is another term for the pupil of the eye. false
  7. The number of threats to information security is reducing every year. false
  8. A biometric system compares an image with a template in a database. true
  9. Infra red light is visible to the human eye. false
  10. Ireland is developing a leadership position in biometrics. true