A digital fingerprint is a security measure that is used to protect multimedia files and information. It is usually a coded string of binary digits that creates a unique identity for a file. The binary digits within the coded string are created by a mathematical algorithm. A digital fingerprint can also be used to create user IDs on networks, to track the activity of the users, and to block the user from accessing certain information or certain sites on the Internet.
One of the main reasons for digital fingerprints is to protect information and make sure that information and transmitted messages are not tampered with. In the current era, packets of information — especially information as it is transmitted by technological devices such as computers, cell phones, and PDAs — are crucial to daily life. From personal email accounts to government websites, the transmission of information in a digital mode is both part of every day life and important to the current way of life, especially in developed countries. As such, information must be protected, hence the use of the digital fingerprint.
Just like the actual fingerprint of a human being, a digital fingerprint cannot be recreated. If a file is tampered with, even just in terms of the alteration of a single character, the digital fingerprint will change. This is crucial as there are many files that rely on the exact specificity of every single character. When a digital fingerprint is tampered with, the owner or user of the file may be alerted so that the file can be used with caution or the original version of the file can be retrieved.
In addition to digital finger prints that are used to protect information and block users from accessing specific information, there are also digitized versions of analog fingerprints. In some highly secured areas, entry can only be gained through biometric information. Biometric information, such as a digitized fingerprint, can be used to ensure that only authorized people enter or have access to certain areas or information.
This kind of digital fingerprint is created by scanning and creating a digital identity for a person who has access to a certain place or set of information. Once that identity and access allowance has been created, the person must press his finger to a scanner on the occasion of accessing that information or place. As every analog fingerprint is unique, so is every digital fingerprint that is made using an analog fingerprint.