hand being scanned
Many forward-thinking organisations are rightly reassessing their security options
In many industries, security and dependability are at the forefront of customers’ minds. But the fact is that firewalls and encryptions will only ever form part of the solution. Jon Mooney and Dave Bulless, security experts at Ingersoll Rand in the US and UK respectively, discuss the benefits of biometric technology in the protection of people, businesses and assets. Highlighting the many advantages of hand readers and fingerprint recognition scanners used in conjunction with access control / identity management software, the writers state that biometric access control is one of the most secure options available.

The key challenge for offsite storage and information handling facilities has always been to provide employees and customers with immediate access, while maintaining a high level of security. However, a simple access card-based system, where cards can be lost or stolen, is not the answer. You can’t rely on your customers to remember their card each time they visit your facility.

Using biometrics for reliable access control

The reality is that although biometrics
is arguably the most secure option in terms of people and assets, many still don’t understand the mechanics behind it and often perceive
it as a threat...

Many forward-thinking organisations are rightly reassessing their security options after realising that card-based systems no longer provide the required protection or the level of convenience to meet their needs. For data industry leaders, when assessing the questions of physical access control, the overwhelming answer is biometric technology.

Hand recognition readers and fingerprint recognition scanners, in particular, provide a level of security beyond that of a conventional card system by verifying the identity of the person. At the same time they eliminate the burden and expense of a card-based system.

For some, hand readers and finger scanners sound like the stuff of Bond movies but the reality is, this is where security teams arguably need to be focusing their efforts. Hand readers and finger scanners make up 80 per cent of biometric access control applications. They are complementary, as each meets specific needs of the market.

Biometric fingerprint readers - advantages

Fingerprint recognition scanners are currently being used most successfully in smaller organisations. Best suited to low volume openings, for instance where doors are accessed by less than 100 people or at a slower rate, finger recognition technology offers a secure option where cost is a key consideration. It is often employed for the protection of sensitive documents and for high-value storage.

A biometric hand scanner
Larger installations use biometric hand readers at the entrance

Biometric hand readers – advantages in identity management

Hand reader technology, by contrast, presents an ideal solution for many larger organisations. Due to its accuracy and speed with which user identification can be assessed, it provides essential control without slowing the flow of a large group of people. Typically, larger installations use biometric hand readers at the entrance, on the security corridor and at individual customer areas. Administration of the system is handled by access control/ identity management software, which can be tailored to the client’s specific requirements including remote enrolment for multi-facility management and expiring privileges for temporary access. The hand readers interface directly with their access control panels and can be configured to control a lock independent of a panel.

The set-up process for adding someone to a hand reader system is simple. Once a person has enrolled in the hand reader software, the system creates a similar account in the primary access control system and the user’s hand effectively acts as a badge. The hand reader then compares the hand template with the stored biometric template triggered by a card or pin and, if it matches, sends an output representing the badge or pin number to the primary system. The primary system then decides whether the person is allowed entry.

Dispelling the myths surrounding biometric solutions

The reality is that although biometrics is arguably the most secure option in terms of people and assets, many still don’t understand the mechanics behind it and often perceive it as a threat...

The fundamental point about hand recognition readers and finger recognition scanners is that they recognise people, not plastic cards. This is paramount for organisations that require high security, and absolutely critical to the prevention of unauthorised access to hardware and sensitive information. They provide an additional layer of security, ensuring that lost or stolen cards are not later used to access facilities. Crucially, they ensure that ‘you are you.’

For some, hand readers and finger scanners sounds like the stuff of Bond movies but the reality is, this is where security teams arguably need to be focusing their efforts

Biometrics, such as hand readers do not require any details about an individual other than their name. Details of home addresses, bank account numbers or other personal information are not stored in any file or database. The measurements taken of an individual’s hand are simply converted through a unique algorithm into a number, which is stored in the database. In fact, even if someone gained entry to thePC that the software is stored on, they would not find any personal information. It must also be remembered that the main organisations will be using biometrics once individuals have pre-registered within their facilities either as employees or contractors. The finger, palm, iris or face is then used merely to confirm the individual is who they say they are and genuinely does require access.

There’s no doubt that there are data protection issues in many schools and other organisations, particularly in relation to personal information, addresses and other confidential information from social services for example. But, biometrics is not part of this problem and should not be lumped together with wider computer security issues.

The reality is that biometrics is safe, cost effective and it does what alternatives, such as card-based access systems can’t do, and that’s keep people and assets fully secure. The fact is, whether you’re an educational institute or a data organisation, investment in the right security technology is vital. Biometrics is not the problem. In fact, in security terms, it is the answer.
Nurses rushing through hospital doors
The fundamental point about biometric hand readers and finger scanners is that they recognise people, not plastic cards

Biometric systems checklist:

Investigation – Where are you now? Has your organisation recently grown or accumulated new assets and are you fully protected? Be honest, interrogate your levels of access and protection and ensure that your systems are fit for purpose.

Records – do you have a series of auditable checks and records in place? Make sure that your security systems offer you a complete view of access patterns and potential issues across all of your facilities.

Scalability – perhaps you require increased security but can’t afford a significant investment? If so, make sure that you start with a secure, scalable platform as a minimum which can be built upon over time, as funds allow.

Technology – is there a better biometric system out there for your needs? Keep on top of the latest technology news and be open about the needs of your organisation. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

 

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

In case you missed it

Physical security and the cloud: why one can’t work without the other
Physical security and the cloud: why one can’t work without the other

Human beings have a long-standing relationship with privacy and security. For centuries, we’ve locked our doors, held close our most precious possessions, and been wary of the threats posed by thieves. As time has gone on, our relationship with security has become more complicated as we’ve now got much more to be protective of. As technological advancements in security have got smarter and stronger, so have those looking to compromise it. Cybersecurity Cybersecurity, however, is still incredibly new to humans when we look at the long relationship that we have with security in general. As much as we understand the basics, such as keeping our passwords secure and storing data in safe places, our understanding of cybersecurity as a whole is complicated and so is our understanding of the threats that it protects against. However, the relationship between physical security and cybersecurity is often interlinked. Business leaders may find themselves weighing up the different risks to the physical security of their business. As a result, they implement CCTV into the office space, and alarms are placed on doors to help repel intruders. Importance of cybersecurity But what happens when the data that is collected from such security devices is also at risk of being stolen, and you don’t have to break through the front door of an office to get it? The answer is that your physical security can lose its power to keep your business safe if your cybersecurity is weak. As a result, cybersecurity is incredibly important to empower your physical security. We’ve seen the risks posed by cybersecurity hacks in recent news. Video security company Verkada recently suffered a security breach as malicious attackers obtained access to the contents of many of its live camera feeds, and a recent report by the UK government says two in five UK firms experienced cyberattacks in 2020. Cloud computing – The solution Cloud stores information in data centres located anywhere in the world, and is maintained by a third party Cloud computing offers a solution. The cloud stores your information in data centres located anywhere in the world and is maintained by a third party, such as Claranet. As the data sits on hosted servers, it’s easily accessible while not being at risk of being stolen through your physical device. Here’s why cloud computing can help to ensure that your physical security and the data it holds aren’t compromised. Cloud anxiety It’s completely normal to speculate whether your data is safe when it’s stored within a cloud infrastructure. As we are effectively outsourcing our security by storing our important files on servers we have no control over - and, in some cases, limited understanding of - it’s natural to worry about how vulnerable this is to cyber-attacks. The reality is, the data that you save on the cloud is likely to be a lot safer than that which you store on your device. Cyber hackers can try and trick you into clicking on links that deploy malware or pose as a help desk trying to fix your machine. As a result, they can access your device and if this is where you’re storing important security data, then it is vulnerable. Cloud service providers Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software in the personal computer Cloud service providers offer security that is a lot stronger than the software that is likely in place on your personal computer. Hyperscalers such as Microsoft and Amazon Web Service (AWS) are able to hire countless more security experts than any individual company - save the corporate behemoth - could afford. These major platform owners have culpability for thousands of customers on their cloud and are constantly working to enhance the security of their platforms. The security provided by cloud service providers such as Claranet is an extension of these capabilities. Cloud resistance Cloud servers are located in remote locations that workers don’t have access to. They are also encrypted, which is the process of converting information or data into code to prevent unauthorised access. Additionally, cloud infrastructure providers like ourselves look to regularly update your security to protect against viruses and malware, leaving you free to get on with your work without any niggling worries about your data being at risk from hackers. Data centres Cloud providers provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and AI Additionally, cloud providers are also able to provide sophisticated security measures and solutions in the form of firewalls and artificial intelligence, as well as data redundancy, where the same piece of data is held within several separate data centres. This is effectively super-strong backup and recovery, meaning that if a server goes down, you can access your files from a backup server. Empowering physical security with cybersecurity By storing the data gathered by your physical security in the cloud, you're not just significantly reducing the risk of cyber-attacks, but also protecting it from physical threats such as damage in the event of a fire or flood. Rather than viewing your physical and cybersecurity as two different entities, treat them as part of one system: if one is compromised, the other is also at risk. They should work in tandem to keep your whole organisation secure.

Video surveillance is getting smarter and more connected
Video surveillance is getting smarter and more connected

The global pandemic has triggered considerable innovation and change in the video surveillance sector. Last year, organisations around the globe embraced video surveillance technologies to manage social distancing, monitor occupancy levels in internal and external settings, and enhance their return-to-work processes. Forced to reimagine nearly every facet of their operations for a new post-COVID reality, companies were quick to seize on the possibilities offered by today’s next-generation video surveillance systems. Whether that was utilising motion sensing technologies to automatically close doors or switch on lighting in near-deserted office facilities. Or checking if people were wearing masks and adhering to distancing rules. Or keeping a watchful eye on streets and public spaces during mandated curfew hours. Beyond surveillance and monitoring use cases, organisations also took advantage of a raft of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications to undertake a range of tasks. Everything from automating their building management and optimising warehouse operations, to increasing manufacturing output and undertaking predictive maintenance. Behind the scenes, three key trends all contributed to the growing ubiquity of video surveillance observed in a variety of government, healthcare, corporate, retail, and industry settings. Video surveillance takes to the Cloud Last year the shift to digital working led organisations to rapidly embrace cloud-enabled services, including cloud-hosted Video Surveillance As A Service (VSaaS) solutions that provide tremendous economies of scale and flexibility. Alongside significant cost savings, these solutions make it easier for organisations to enhance their disaster recovery and manage their video surveillance estate in new and highly effective ways. Surveillance cameras with audio recording were used more than 200% by customers between 2016 and 2020For example, in addition to enabling remote access and maintenance, today’s cloud-powered systems eliminate any need to invest in local storage technologies that all too often fail to keep pace with an organisation’s growing data storage requirements. Indeed, data from our worldwide customer base survey reveals how in 2020 an impressive 63% of organisations had abandoned using any on-premises storage option and were instead only storing all their video surveillance recordings and data in the Cloud. A deeper review of the global stats shows that the average cloud recording retention period for this stored data was 28.2 days, with organisations in Asia topping the global average at 38 days – 33% higher than was observed in any other region. Improvements in bandwidth and scalability engendered by the Cloud have also helped boost the growing utilisation of audio recordings in addition to visual image capture. Indeed, our research found the number of surveillance cameras with an audio recording facility used by customers jumped more than 200% between 2016 and 2020. Making sense of Big Data The enhanced ease of connectivity and scalable bandwidth made possible by the Cloud is stimulating more companies to connect a lot more video surveillance cameras to their networks. The top motivation for doing so is to generate live metrics and data that can be utilised to deliver enhanced business insights and operational intelligence. In recent years, a rich choice of video analytics solutions have been developed for a variety of industry verticals. The range of functionalities on offer is impressive and covers a variety of applications. Everything from making it easy to classify and track objects and behaviour patterns in real-time, to undertaking anomaly detection, or generating predictions based on past and present events/activities. Data collected via today’s cloud connected cameras can now also be used to feed deep learning training and AI analytics, utilising the unparalleled virtualised processing capacity of the Cloud to convert Big Data into usable information quickly. By integrating this information with data from other enterprise data capture systems, organisations are now able to gain a 360-degree view of their operations – in almost real-time. IT is now in the driving seat No longer the sole preserve of on-site security staff, the wider application and business use of video surveillance means that IT is increasingly taking the lead role where the management and control of these systems are concerned. IT is asked to integrate video surveillance into key enterprise platforms to generate the data that business leaders need Aside from the fact that IT has a vested interest in addressing the cybersecurity implications that come with attaching a growing range of IoT devices to the enterprise network, they’re also increasingly being asked to integrate video surveillance into key enterprise platforms to generate the data that business leaders need. As organisations expand their integration of video with other business applications, such as point of sale, access control, process control and manufacturing systems, this trend is only set to accelerate. Looking to the future Right now, the video surveillance industry is at a key tipping point, as video systems become increasingly strategic for enabling the enterprise to boost productivity, stay compliant, and fulfil its obligations to protect employees and customers. As the technology’s contribution to enhanced data-driven decision-making and problem solving continues to increase, expect the adoption of IP connected video cameras to burgeon as organisations look to capture more data from their day-to-day business operations.

How has Brexit affected the security industry?
How has Brexit affected the security industry?

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a world of uncertainty unfolded for those doing business in the UK and the EU. The referendum was passed in July 2016. Including subsequent delays, the separation was completed after four years in January 2020, with a transition period ending December 2020. Even with the deadlines past, there are still pockets of uncertainty stemming from the separation. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How has Brexit affected the security industry?