The Growth of Technology
Biometrics solutions have recently become more cost effective
- By Mohammed Murad
- Mar 02, 2021
How enterprise organizations provide access control,
identity authentication – even keep employee
time and attendance – is rapidly moving away
from traditional systems and favoring contactless
biometric solutions. This is mainly due to biometrics’
greater security and unparalleled accuracy and is further fueled
by the current COVID-19 pandemic that favors the contactless
devices biometrics can offer.
Also, biometric solutions have recently become cost-competitive,
making them more applicable to various industries. Let’s take
a look at how these technologies are being used around the world.
In the access control market, electronic card-based systems replaced
locks and keys about 50 years ago. That was a huge security
improvement; however, there are still potential problems with
many systems used daily. Employees can lose their cards or lend
them to another unauthorized person. That’s virtually impossible
to do with a biometric, which is a measurement of a person’s physical
characteristics such as iris or facial patterns or fingerprints.
Built-in liveness detection in biometric readers virtually eliminates
false ID authentication by using photographs or prosthetics.
An aging Weigand card access control protocol, still widely
deployed after four decades, is a hacker’s dream. Weigand-based
systems lack encryption, making it easy to intercept data signals
between cards and readers and produce a working credential.
That is not a problem with biometrics. Now biometrics integrated
with systems over OSDP takes event security to higher level.
It is not unusual for large enterprise organizations to acquire facilities
using multiple card technologies. A card enabling an employee
to enter a corporate building in New York may not work in an Omaha
office. After a one-time enrollment in a biometric database, an employee
is recognized in any building on the corporate network. And,
biometric offers an access control system’s expected performance,
such as limiting which door, days and times an employee may enter.
Biometric access control provides a front door to workstation
solution that bridges physical and logical security. For example,
biometric readers enable entry into the building, elevators and
offices. Integrating the system with workstation software ensures
only an authorized person can access the computer’s data.
Convenience is also a factor with biometrics. Biometric systems
don’t require an employee to carry a card or remember a
PIN – although card and biometric readers are often used together
to provide two-factor authentication at mission-critical
locations. Enrollment in a biometric system requires less than a
minute and authentication takes only a second.
USES OF BIOMETRICS
Identity authentication is another area where biometric technologies
shine. Healthcare facilities use biometrics to ensure patients
receive proper treatments. Mistaken identity is a common
problem within the industry. Surprisingly, one extensive regional
healthcare system reported having more than 130,000 patients
sharing the same name and birthdate.
Biometric systems provide quick and accurate identification
of employees, vendors and visitors seeking entry into restricted
areas such as pharmacies, nurseries and memory-care units. Enhanced
patient privacy comes from limiting access to records only
to authorized medical providers identified by a biometric.
Mistaken identity also plagues law enforcement. It is not uncommon
for correctional facilities to inadvertently release the
wrong person based on a shared name or similar appearance.
Enrolling suspects into a biometric system during the booking
process can eliminate the problem. Biometrics help officials accurately
identify freed prisoners as part of their terms of bail or
probation. Border patrol agents use mounted and handheld biometric
readers to identify people entering the country.
Many major airports worldwide offer biometric stations for
preferred passengers, saving them time clearing security. Larger
stadiums and other entertainment venues offer similar systems.
College and university campuses are replacing plastic card
credentials at dormitories, recreational centers, food commons,
health clinics and other locations with biometric identification
readers. Imagine the time and cost savings at a large university
that must procure and store supplies and equipment to print
thousands of new credentials for incoming students each fall.
TIME AND ATTENDANCE
Biometric time and attendance systems provide major benefits
compared to punch-card systems and readers linked to an access
control system. An employee’s unique biometric data points can’t be
shared, eliminating a costly payroll fraud known as buddy punching
in which an employee clocks in or out for a friend not at work.
The quick and accurate systems integrate with hundreds of existing
time and attendance applications or custom apps explicitly
designed for an end-user. The biometric software may automatically
calculate employment payments, speeding up the payroll process
while removing the element of human error as staff enters the data.
Once enrolled, an employee may clock in and out at other company
networked readers. The system will immediately
recognize them when they return days or
weeks later. And a contactless system using iris
recognition is not impacted by grease or dirt covering
This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Security Today.