Biometric security -

I signed up for the iris scanner service at Heathrow airport. The theory is that passing through passport control should now be a breeze because all you need do, once registered, is walk up to the scanning device and pass through security in an instant. Unfortunately, the scanner is proving to be quite popular and is not always very efficient. Which means the queue for physical passport checks was moving much quicker this morning than the queue for the scanner. Hence, much grumbling and complaining to be heard from the crumpled suits lining up in the fast line.

Mind you, I am a big advocate (that word again…) of biometric controls and the iris scanner – when it works – is great technology and practically impossible to cheat.

My own organisation has biometric controls in a couple of locations too. In one we have fingerprint access to the office. That system is tied in with the local HR department who use the access and exit data to prepare the payroll. All employees must put their finger on the pad each time they arrive and leave the office. While sounding a bit draconian, it’s actually very efficient and replaced an old punch-card system. It’s also designed to conform to local employee workplace regulations. So win-win for everyone. Some might argue that there is a privacy trade-off for the sake of conveniance. I’m not going to disagree which is why it’s vital to have the right safeguards around the database. Ideally, biometric data should be kept strictly separate from personal information.

Whilst standing in the queue at the airport this morning, I was wondering about how we might be able to make better use of biometrics for the mobile workforce. A recent article by Richard Farnworth (see full citation below), states

biometric-based processes can not only provide fail-safe ID checks for business critical applications, they will also ensure immediate and accurate security across mobile business applications.

The article goes on to discuss some of the available options and goes on to conclude that biometric-based processes can not only provide fail-safe ID checks for business critical applications, they will also ensure immediate and accurate security across mobile business applications.

Biometrics are not necessarily always foolproof. This podcast here discusses how some systems might be spoofed using PlayDoe. It makes for interesting listening (once you get past the first couple of minutes of chat), especially the conclusion that while there may be potential vulnerabilities it’s probably still a more secure solution than the one you’re probably using now.

Citation for above mentioned article:

Richard Farnworth, Enhancing security for the mobile workforce, Biometric Technology TodayVolume 16, Issue 1, , January 2008, Page 8.

(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6W70-4RNS8DX-H/2/964beea5e82fa331ded1928002dd6a6d)

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