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U.S. intelligence community seeks to detect biometric spoofing


In an effort to strengthen its proposed biometric screening system, known as Tactical High-Threat Operational Response (THOR), the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an operation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has issued a request for proposals to develop security enhancements.

The IARPA is seeking to develop technologies that detect when someone is attempting to disguise their biometric identity, or “spoof”, in order to circumvent its biometric security systems.

The proposed approaches that the department is soliciting must be capable of detecting known and unknown presentation attacks. Biometric modalities of interest include face, finger, and iris.

The THOR program will comprise both software and hardware and has two “subsystems.” One handles biometric collection and enrollment on desktop and several mobile platforms, and the other is a database that can operate across a local- or wide-area network.

The “presentation attacks” program is anticipated to be divided into three phases. Phase one will last for a period of 18 months and will focus on the ability to detect known spoofs. Phase two will be 18 months and will focus on the ability to detect unknown spoofs. Phase three will be 12 months and will focus on operationally relevant performance requirements. Following the conclusion of phases one and two, respectively, down-selection is possible for a variety of reasons including but not limited to underperforming spoof modalities or proposals.

The first round of proposals are due August 15. THOR is slated to be a four year program, starting in January 2017.

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