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Establishing identity is becoming critical in our vastly interconnected society. Questions such as "Is she really who she claims to be?," "Is this person authorized to use this facility?," or "Is he in the watchlist posted by the government?" are routinely being posed in a variety of scenarios ranging from issuing a driver's license to gaining entry into a country. The need for reliable user authentication techniques has increased in the wake of heightened concerns about security and rapid advancements in networking, communication, and mobility. Biometrics, described as the science of recognizing an individual based on his or her physical or behavioral traits, is beginning to gain acceptance as a legitimate method for determining an individual's identity. Biometric systems have now been deployed in various commercial, civilian, and forensic applications as a means of establishing identity. In this paper, we provide an overview of biometrics and discuss some of the salient research issues that need to be addressed for making biometric technology an effective tool for providing information security. The primary contribution of this overview includes: 1) examining applications where biometric scan solve issues pertaining to information security; 2) enumerating the fundamental challenges encountered by biometric systems in real-world applications; and 3) discussing solutions to address the problems of scalability and security in large-scale authentication systems.