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Biometrics - News

Integrating biometrics with an organisation's existing access control system

With a biometric card, the facility would reap all of the security and access control advantages of the smart card plus biometrics
The biometric card provides an easy, low cost way for facilities to provide a biometric upgrade
A convenient way to establish higher security within certain areas of a building is an appealing idea to many security directors. Whether it’s to more highly secure the pharmacy lab at a hospital, the laboratory at a government research facility or the tarmac at a small airport, some locations simply need to have more scrutiny paid to who is entering. Going beyond the card only – something they carry – and adding a PIN – something they know – many organisations employ multi-factor authentication at such locations. But, that is done irregularly as this often means a different reader is needed. Yet, even when this is undertaken, somebody else can use still use another employee’s card and PIN. Kim Humborstad, CEO of Zwipe, states that only biometrics provides the solution for authenticating “who” is at the door.

In the perfect world of large budgets, government facilities would have a biometrics reader at every door that needs higher security. Of course, that would mean ripping out the present card readers and having to budget the money for new biometric readers plus the make the investment of making sure that the biometric integrates into their present access control system. Some suggest that this can be done with a smart card.

After all, the multi-application flexibility of contactless smart cards lets a facility use them for logical/information access control, time and attendance and other applications in addition to physical access control. Each application gets its own memory space on the card or tag and security keys prevent one application from accessing another. For those considering biometrics at some of their access points, the card can even hold the biometric template.

Nonetheless, there still remains a problem with the smart card. Who is presenting the smart card to the reader? The system doesn’t know. All it can understand is that an authorised card has been presented to the reader. Thus, the door should open, respective of who is holding the card.

Yet, a biometric template carried within the card could help solve that problem - but at what expense? To do so, it still needs a biometric reader, which means an additional piece of hardware, thus raising the infrastructure cost to do what the card should be doing in the first place, verifying who is trying to enter.

Why not put biometrics directly on the smart card?

With the biometric directly on the card, they (security administrators) can be assured that the only people getting in are those authorised to do so

There would be no additional hardware to buy and the smart card wouldn’t work unless verified by the authorised person’s thumbprint on the card. With a biometric card, the facility would reap all of the security and access control advantages of the smart card plus biometrics.

That solution is now available. A contactless smart card credential with on-card fingerprint reading is available to provide all the assets of the smart card and eliminate its most glaring deficiency, not knowing who is holding it. The biometric card quickly reads the user’s fingerprint in less than a second. Eliminating the problems of solely deploying PINs and standard cards, the wirelessly powered biometric card lets users authenticate themselves directly on the card through something they are, a fingerprint or thumbprint. Only then will the card system activate the lock. This is much more secure than simply using a standard card, which verifies only something the user carries.

An on-card fingerprint scanner with 3D capacitive technology resides on the contactless smart card which has universal compatibility with all ISO 14443 readers from the leading brands. The biometric card is DESFIRE EV1 and MIFARE Classic compatible. Without having to replace an organisation’s existing readers, the biometric card provides an easy, low cost way for organisations to provide a biometric upgrade to access control systems using smart card readers or multi-technology readers that also read smart cards.

Thus, biometric cards are more secure to use than other available ID and authentication solutions on the market today. The fingerprint data is captured by the on-card fingerprint scanner and is thereafter encrypted and stored only inside the card. No exchange of data is conducted with external systems. This provides secure template management since the fingerprint never leaves the card. It also eliminates user concerns with privacy issues. The card is unique to the user and only the authorised card holder can activate card communication with the reader. When a positive match occurs, the biometric card activates encrypted communication with the lock or reader in the same way as other ISO 14443 contactless smart cards.

Problem Solved

No longer do security administrators need to worry if someone not authorised to enter is using another person’s ID card. With the biometric directly on the card, they can be assured that the only people getting in are those authorised to do so.

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