There are new biometric gun safes coming onto the market that are pitched as FBI certified. This is good, but what does it really mean?

The Government Directives and Programs

HSPD-12, or Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, was issued on August 27th, 2004. This directive pushed the Federal Government to adopt a set of standards for secure and reliable personal identity verification.

The Computer Security Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated a new program as a result called Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 201, as a response to the directive.

This program outlines standard and technical specifications for various types of personal identity verification system through three technical documents:

  • NIST Special Publication 800-73 “Interfaces for Personal Identity Verification”
  • NIST Special Publication 800-76 “Biometric Data Specification for Personal Identity Verification”
  • NIST Special Publication 800-78 “Cryptographic Algorithms and Key Sizes for Personal Identity Verification”

These documents can be found on the PIV Standards page at the NIST website.

What This Means for Biometric Safes

Biometric safes that say they are FBI Certified are basically just following the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Standards outlined by FIPS 201.

There is a certification program used to verify if technology follows the standards, and along with that is also an IAFIS certified products list that outlines technology that will work within the requirements of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) maintained by the FBI.

Most FBI Certified PIV devices are either using optical devices or silicone ships with capacitive sensors, which both can satisfy the standards and requirements.

If you see a biometric safe that says it is FBI Certified – this is a good thing. It means that the manufacturer is using technology that at a minimum follows standards outlined by some of the best security minds out there.