Biometrics has several advantages and benefits
What is it about biometrics that triggers so
much worry? 
Initial resistance gives way to mainstream acceptance when biometric technology allows convenient and secure access to healthcare, banking services, amusement parks, office buildings. What is it about biometrics that triggers so much worry? In the past, concerns seemed to have their foundation in the use of fingerprints in law enforcement; the association between fingerprints and criminality was strong.  Phil Scarfo, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Lumidigm (part of HID Global) explains that today’s objections seem to be more related to fears that we are handing over our identities to government and commercial organizations, that we are being watched.

While the adoption of biometrics has never been more widespread — highly successful security- and privacy-enhancing applications have been deployed worldwide, across all industries — the general public narrative remains focused more on the risks rather than the benefits. Concerns about user privacy, reliability, performance and even personal safety often dominate many of today’s articles and discussions involving biometrics. While all of these concerns merit debate, the industry finds itself in the position of having to correct a wide range of misconceptions and myths while a discussion of the very real benefits of biometrics is left by the wayside.

In some developing countries where access to government programs are limited biometrics identification can make the difference between citizens getting access to food

Who is it? (It’s Personal.)

Perhaps the reason is because biometrics is so… personal. The irony is that, if other industries trading in identities were measured on an equivalent risk-only basis, companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon wouldn’t be the household names that they are. These and other companies thrive because, despite the very credible risks they pose to user identity, privacy and security, they also offer significant and measureable benefits that both users and providers value and, indeed, seek.

The level of personalization and services that can be provided based on user identity is highly desirable. Shoring up that user identity with biometrics allows for a higher level of security, privacy and convenience. The risks of user authentication in transactions are already generally accepted; the benefits of biometrics are substantial. With biometrics, there is no form of user authentication that is more democratic, more inclusive or more tightly linked to personal identity. There are no language, literacy, race, gender or age barriers limiting the use of biometrics. All other user authentication methodologies, including passwords, cards, tokens or other physical credentials, have the same risks as biometrics but are far more difficult for users to understand, use, remember or deploy. And, only biometrics definitively say “who” is transacting.

Value of Biometric Technology in Everyday Lives

The level of personalisation and services that can be provided based on user identity is highly desirable
Biometrics allows for a higher level of security, privacy and convenience

Automating biometric authentication such that it’s a fingerprint sensor (for example) that recognizes the customer, not a clerk, allows for many desirable benefits. Banks in Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and elsewhere are showcasing the utility of biometrics. They have demonstrated that customer security is enhanced with biometrics. Equally important, services are made more convenient and secure. Customers welcome the simplicity of biometrics. They see biometric authentication as a more convenient way to transact business and a significant benefit that is being offered by their provider. Banks also see this as a way to lower the risk of identity theft and fraud while allowing them to offer more tailored and enhanced services. This more holistic view of “convenient security” makes them better able to retain existing customers and to grow their businesses. Biometric authentication is used at over 50,000 ATMs in Brazil; the use of biometrics is quite routine for millions of bank customers there.

In healthcare settings, providers, payers and patients all benefit from having strong authentication via biometrics. Knowing “who” with a greater degree of certainty helps both user and provider ensure that services are being delivered to the proper individual. Fewer medical mistakes and greater efficiency is realized. This ultimately helps to lower costs and improve patient care. Additionally, compliance requirements like those imposed in North America by DEA to manage Electronic Prescription of Controlled Substances (EPCS) are also made simpler by the use of biometrics. Doctors no longer need to reach for a physical credential or one-time password (OTP) to meet compliance requirements or to do their job. A simple “touch and go” approach to workflow in the hospital enabling secure identification at a shared user workstation provides tailored, personalized and secure access to medical patient records. This is an enhancement in both cost efficiency and administrative relief.

In some developing countries where literacy or access to government programs are limited and where there are real and compelling challenges, biometrics identification can make the difference between citizens getting access to food, benefits or critical services.

Patients in a nationwide Mexico healthcare system can biometrically identify themselves and ensure that the person getting treatment is who they claim to be and not someone pretending to be that individual or an identity thief. Small children in Africa who are desperately in need of life saving vaccines have demonstrated that the use of biometrics by medical staff can keep track of those who have been treated, ensuring that more children are protected and fewer vaccines are wasted.

In healthcare settings, providers, payers and patients all benefit from having strong authentication via biometrics

Fewer medical mistakes and greater efficiency is realized with Biometrics

And, more recently, biometrics are now being used in consumer applications and on smart devices and cell phones to protect private and sensitive information that otherwise might be vulnerable simply because users value convenience over security. Although the risk of spoofing is legitimate, is that risk really greater than not locking their personal devices for lack of convenience?

Benefits of Biometric Technology

The use of biometrics in every one of these applications provided one or more of the following benefits: more security, more certainty about who was transacting, more privacy, more ease of use, more regulatory compliance, more cost savings, more convenience, and on and on.

In short, whether the application or use case is a serious commercial enterprise application, civil program or just a personal security assistant, the value and benefit of biometrics is and will likely continue to be compelling. We live in a complex digital world where our digital identities have become increasingly important and where we will constantly face threats. Risks are an inescapable reality and must, therefore, be considered. But it is also short-sighted to overlook the benefits as these may often far outweigh the risks.

Many people will continue to focus what’s wrong with biometrics. However, expectation is that as people better understand what’s right with the technology and the benefits offered, biometric authentication will become even more accepted and mainstream.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Phil Scarfo Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Lumidigm

In case you missed it

Open Options Paves the Way for New Customers in Access Control
Open Options Paves the Way for New Customers in Access Control

For more than 22 years, Open Options, Addison, Texas, has developed access control solutions that connect to leading security technologies to deliver a full-scale solution based on each customer’s unique needs. In 2018, Open Options was acquired by ACRE, which already owned the Vanderbilt and ComNet brands. To find out the latest, we interviewed Chuck O’Leary, President of Open Options. Q: It has been two and a half years since Open Options was acquired by ACRE. Briefly describe that transition and how the company is stronger today because of it. O’Leary: The ACRE transition really focused on integrating our access control solution, DNA Fusion, with Vanderbilt Industries technologies in order to further our reach in the market and enhance our portfolios. With their support, we have been able to accelerate innovations and expand our global reach. Overall, it has been a great experience to be a part of the ACRE organization, and it has opened the doors to new opportunities for us both here in the states and globally.  Q: What is "Connect Care" and how does it benefit integrators and/or end user customers? O’Leary: For those unfamiliar with the world of access control, it can often be a little overwhelming when first introduced; however, we strive to make our products as easy to use and intuitive as possible, with Connect Care being no different. Connect Care is a system that has been specifically designed to create the most connected experience in the security market Connect Care is a system that has been specifically designed to create the most connected experience in the security market. It serves as a 24/7 bridge from our customers to services like technical support, platform support, professional services, and training. By providing these options for our customers, we can better empower them with the knowledge and expertise of our DNA Fusion access control system and ensure their success with the product.  Q: Who are the new customers entering the market for access control systems in the wake of the pandemic, and how should they be approached/managed differently? O’Leary: Over the last year, there has been a huge demand for access control systems as remote work increased due to COVID-19, and even now, as employees and students are heading back into the offices and schools. Organizations are realizing that having an outdated security system is no longer robust enough for the rapid advancement of technology that we witnessed over the course of the pandemic, and really the past few years. For those who are just dipping their toe into a new access control deployment, the most important thing they can do is to search for a provider who has a solution that is easily integrated, scalable, and provides excellent training and resources. Q: Define the term "touchless access control" and explain why it is gaining a higher profile in the post-pandemic world. O’Leary: The interesting thing about access control is that it has almost always been touchless. Many organizations are looking for robust solutions that are touchless and can be utilized remotely, and it's fairly easy to understand why a solution like this would become widely popular because of COVID-19. Integrators are searching for access control systems that will serve as a proper solution for organizationsThe process of using access control to streamline security infrastructures is not a new concept by any means, but due to the rapid development in technology over the past few years, more integrators are searching for access control systems that will serve as a proper solution for organizations, while still supplying the touchless and remote-based features. Q: What do you see as the future course of the changing technology trends we see in today's market (such as mobile credentials, cloud-based systems, cybersecurity, etc.)? O’Leary: As we continue to tread through the different technological developments in the market today, we are noticing that mobile credentials and biometrics are becoming increasingly popular. As cybersecurity and mobility continue to become more important, we are also seeing the rapid jump to the cloud. By utilizing cloud-based systems, an organization is not hindered by a lack of storage or old software and gains the flexibility to scale their security system as their business grows. Q: How will the access control market look different five years from now versus today? What about 10 years from now? O’Leary: Within the next five years, I suspect that access control will continue to make the move towards cloud-based systems and utilize mobile credentials and biometrics. In 10 years, I think all access control will be open platform and many more organizations will embrace cloud solutions for increased functionality. Also, innovations will continue to be the drivers behind new deployments with some installations being biometrics only and include recognizing fingerprints, retina scans, facial recognition, and voice. Q: What is the biggest challenge currently facing the access control market, and how should manufacturers (including Open Options) be addressing the challenge? O’Leary: One of the biggest challenges facing the physical access control market is organizations actually making the shift to more up-to-date access control systems. Organizations are looking to adopt more digital-focused access control experiencesOrganizations are looking to adopt more digital-focused access control experiences — ones that are focused on integration, newer features, cybersecurity, and ease of monitoring. Access control manufacturers should be addressing this challenge by creating integratable, scalable systems that are easily managed and provide a structured, streamlined approach for an organization’s security infrastructure. Q: What is the biggest misconception about access control? O’Leary: Access control is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and some organizations might have different standards or assets that need protection. This is why it's vital to know the risks your organization faces when speaking with access control providers — to ensure the best possible outcome for your specific needs. It's important to remember that whatever access control system is chosen should proactively mitigate any risks, be easily taught to and successfully used by employees, and be scalable with your organization. No matter the line of work, a proper access control system should streamline the security infrastructure and lessen stress on the security team and employees.

Automatic Gates – The Latest Development In Access Control
Automatic Gates – The Latest Development In Access Control

Automatic gates remain an increasingly popular security choice for family homes, business premises or public buildings – anywhere that full control over access is needed. While there is much to consider for installers when advising clients on the right solution for their property, from the size, weight and cost of a gate system, it’s useful to be aware of the latest developments in the market, as this can help to find the right option to fit their needs. The need for speed Gates can be automated to either swing or to slide open, and there are many factors to take into consideration, when advising on which option to use. However, swing gate motors tend to be slower than the speeds achievable for sliding gates, which means the latter are usually more popular, especially for commercial sites where timing can be among the more important factors. One of the most recent developments in the sliding gates market is the introduction of faster motors One of the most recent developments in the sliding gates market is the introduction of faster motors, such as those from Bft Automation, which allow for opening and closing at a quicker speed than has previously been achievable. Fast authorized access control From a security point of view, the ability to allow people and goods in and out of a property at a quicker pace reduces the risk of unauthorized entry, while waiting for a gate to close – an important consideration in both commercial and residential contexts. Other benefits of a faster motor include reduced waiting times. This can be particularly useful for properties in busy areas, where a vehicle could risk blocking traffic, while waiting to turn into a site controlled by a slower gate. Faster motors Also, a faster motor could potentially reduce the risk of an accident from vehicles entering a property at speed. For example, this might happen if someone was making their first visit to a property situated off a fast road in an unfamiliar area. Beyond these practical considerations, in today’s fast-paced world, people aren’t as used to having to wait for things and this applies to the time it takes to get in and out of their own property. So, security benefits aside, faster motors are likely to be more appealing for clients who have sliding gates fitted to their domestic property and who prioritize convenience. The choice of which of the new faster motors to use will be impacted by a number of factors, including the weight of the gates. Essentially, the lighter the gate is the higher the speed achievable. And, as always, it’s important to make sure that any installation complies with safety regulations. Intelligent torque management systems A further development in access control technology includes intelligent torque management systems A further development in access control technology includes intelligent torque management systems, which update the level of torque required to perform the gate’s operation, allowing it to work at the optimum level, regardless of weather conditions, temperature or the degree of wear and tear on the device. Depending on the typical weather conditions experienced at the site and the anticipated frequency of use, it’s worth looking at options that take these factors into account. Importance of security rights In some scenarios, it’s important for particular individuals to have security rights. In which case, there are motors available that come with personalized keys, which are unique, providing an additional level of security. Installers often face the challenge of fitting gate motors in confined spaces, potentially making for a time consuming and technically demanding task. Available space When you only have a small space to work with, simple details can go a long way to helping you. For example, by putting the fastening screws on the front of a motor’s casing, installation and maintenance are easier and more convenient, even in particularly compact areas. Working with suppliers that offer more than just a manual means you’ll have access to advice and support on how new products work in practice and what you need to consider before advising on an installation.

What Are The Security Challenges Of Public Events?
What Are The Security Challenges Of Public Events?

Large public events were out of the question during the depths of the pandemic. However, public events are likely to experience a resurgence along with a more optimistic outlook in the coming months. In addition, there will likely be pent-up enthusiasm for these events among individuals weary from months of isolation. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of public events planners in 2021?