HSBC uses biometrics to protect data

HSBC is using biometric technology capable of recognising over 2,500 different facial features to help it control access to datacentres.

HSBC has tested technology from OmniPerception at its headquarters in Canary Wharf to protect sensitive data. The system uses cameras and ID and software to verify identification.

David McIntosh, CEO at OmniPerception, said HSBC is the first bank to take the technology. He said the company's existing customers include police forces in Liverpool and London which use the technology for custody management and investigations.

Financial services institutions are investigating the technology following a spate of high-profile data losses. Cases such as the £3.6bn rogue trader fraud at Société Générale have highlighted the financial and reputational costs security breaches can cause.

Junior trader Jérôme Kerviel used his knowledge of IT systems to help him make unauthorised trades which led to billions of pounds in losses in January this year.

Société Générale is spending £80m over the next two years to prevent a further incidents. Part of this comprises biometric security technology.

Bob McDowall, analyst at Towergroup, said this type of technology will reduce fraud but banks will find it challenging to manage its use.

"I think there will be more of this but there will have to be policies to control its use," Bob McDowall added.

How it works

The facial recognition technology uses a set of algorithms that monitor over 2,500 parameters on the face. A datacentre users gain access to sensitive areas by typing in a secure pin, or waving an RFID tag in in front of a reader to identify themselves. The technology then checks the face to see if the person is who they say they are. The process takes seconds.

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