Aug 06 2020

Businesses Deploy Biometrics to Secure Facilities

For gaining access to buildings, ID cards and passcodes may be on the way out.

Goodbye passwords and ID cards. As organizations look for better ways to secure their facilities, users themselves are becoming the vector to check through biometrics.

It’s already present in the workplace: 62 percent of companies in North America and Europe use biometric automation today, and an additional 24 percent plan to use it within two years, according to a Spiceworks survey of about 500 IT professionals.

Brett Beranek, general manager of security and biometrics for Nuance, likens biometrics to what happens if your mother walks through the front door of your home. “You don’t ask her for ID. You don’t ask her for a password. All we’re doing with biometrics is normalizing interactions between technology and human beings to be the same as when human beings interact with human beings,” he says.

Of those using biometrics for authentication, 17 percent use it on time clock systems, 11 percent on door locks for server rooms and 9 percent on doors elsewhere in the office, according to Spiceworks.

Given that 46 percent are using fingerprints and facial recognition to unlock smartphones, it seems likely that more office workers will soon use biometrics to access facilities too.

Letting Employees Off the Security Hook

The problem with usernames, passwords and PINs for security is that “they’re knowable,” says Wes Wright, CTO at Imprivata. If they’re knowable, they can be phished. In fact, U.S. businesses lost $1.7 billion in 2019 because of “business email compromise,” according to the FBI.

Biometrics can’t be phished. “Even if you phished my very weak username and password from me, if I have a secondary authentication, you can’t have my same fingerprints. You can’t have my same face. You can’t have my same iris,” says Wright.

Some organizations are experimenting with biometric vectors beyond fingerprints and facial recognition, including hand geometry (5 percent), iris scanning (3 percent) and voice recognition (3 percent). Wright expects that, in the future, voice recognition will become much more popular as a biometric for security. It’s already gaining ground in healthcare as a way for doctors to dictate patient notes without having to turn their attention away from a patient, or type. “It’s combining those two things to where I won’t ever have to put my hands on a keyboard again to interact with a machine,” he says.

Wright also anticipates hand palms to become a more popular security biometric as well. “I think there will be a point where, as you walk into a building, instead of standing there and letting it try to look at your iris, you’ll put your hand up and it will look at your palm print,” he says. 

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