Protecting biometric templates with sketch: Theory and practice

Yagiz Sutcu, Qiming Li, Nasir Memon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Secure storage of biometric templates has become an increasingly important issue in biometric authentication systems. We study how secure sketch, a recently proposed error-tolerant cryptographic primitive, can be applied to protect the templates. We identify several practical issues that are not addressed in the existing theoretical framework, and show the subtleties in evaluating the security of practical systems. We propose a general framework to design and analyze a secure sketch for biometric templates, and give a concrete construction for face biometrics as an example. We show that theoretical bounds have their limitations in practical schemes, and the exact security of the system often needs more careful investigations. We further discuss how to use secure sketch in the design of multifactor authentication systems that allow easy revocation of user credentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-511
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Biometric template security
  • Entropy loss
  • Secure sketch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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