Biometric Security Enters Mainstream

After years of confinement in the will of the Bond films, Biometric security is getting off the movie screen and in the business environment and the mainstream. L 1

By 1971, when he returned to his last bite of the cherry Bond to take a certain Mr. Connery was already starting to look just a little long in the tooth for the role. Nothing to tell. A double chin here, a widening waist there. Ageing temples notwithstanding, however, that familiar unmistakable air - a kind of unshakable cool menace - remained. If anything, in fact - perhaps fueled by the savoir-faire with a term so often does - big Sean was even more confident assured.

That film Diamonds Are Forever, also saw the debut of something else that was previously improved with age: biometric security. (In case you have not seen, Tiffany Case, aka Jill St. John, trying to cover as Scotchbond smuggler Peter Franks by lifting his mark in a glass and running it through a scanner. It does not work. 007 wearing falsies provided, of course, by Q). L 1

OK, so it's taken the time to mature and can not claim to have made a very gracious lord Connery, style and economy, but there is no doubt that biometrics has come a long way since the early 70s. And while - a lot like Bond himself - the technology has a history of flattering, it is now gaining in both confidence and market share.

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Indeed, driven by several factors - a widening repertoire, increased availability, a lack of faith and trust in the traditional password based security, and the increasing diversity and the importance of regulatory compliance for example - biometrics now looks nailed for a key role in supporting business and IT security, with Frost and Sullivan predict biometric revenues within five years to $ 2.07bn hit in the financial sector alone. So what's the difference? What is broken inertia? L 1

All in all, it's a fundamental matter of needs must, says Wayne Parslow VP EMEA Operations at biometric device specialist Imprivata, who says more and more organizations are realizing that even simple incidents of rogue users of their colleagues' credentials steal, or sharing of passwords between users themselves can constitute serious breaches in security. And many are now specifically to strong authentication and biometrics as an effective final answer, he says.

Perhaps the most fundamental driver behind this is that biometrics is the only way an individual really refer to a specific time and place, and to a certain series of actions. And while useful - especially as additional elements in two and three factor authentication scenarios - other forms of authentication such as tokens, smart cards and passwords can still be shared, lost or stolen, or just forgotten.

The glare of publicity has not done biometrics no harm not. The past 12 months, more than their fair share of security based on the front page stories. One of the highest profile - that of Rogue Trader, Jerome Kerviel and his £ 3.6 billion fraud at Societie Generale - would prompt an internal survey whose recommendations was the introduction of biometric security.

The that biometric technology is a much broader range of applications to find these days is to drive the industry forward, add Cyrille Bataller, a partner at Accenture Technology Labs. "With the mandates for use in civil identification, travel documents, border entry and exit control; for visas, residence permits, ID cards, and health, biometric technologies are niche and criminal justice applications in the regular civilian applications," says he. L 1

Traction for such use is apparently widespread in both public and private sectors in the UK for example, where the government is looking for biometrics in national identity cards and passports to use, and in Hong Kong, where it already is being used daily to control the 000s of foot crossings between Hong Kong and Macau.

Biometrics is beyond the realms of security and automation, convenience, comfort and convenience - where a value as a replacement for a human presence, and where it can shave costs and free staff for higher value activities. L 1

In Furthermore, as already noted briefly Biometrics is now more or less universally accepted as one of the cornerstones of multi-factor authentication - that is, ID is determined by several factors, something you own, something you know and something you are.

It is an area where there is a major shift in perception, says Francis Toye, managing director at Unilink. He believes that "... the balance shifts from a presumption of acceptance of the need for identification is becoming more accepted." - Something else that's helping people to open up towards the will of fingerprint, retina scan and voice. Also are shifting perceptions of exactly where biometrics security fits into the bigger picture, says Jim Fulton, VP of marketing at Digital Persona. Where they were once considered competitive with password management solutions, he says, now compete with biometric authentication technologies like smart cards and tokens as the need for multiple factors of identification has grown.

"Today, as" second factor "essentially forms of logon used for VPN or web access, "he says. "But over the next 18 months will step into the mainstream of corporate access to networks, applications and even transaction-level data access." The primary markets Biometrics ", at least for now, remain areas like finance and retail (including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard - PCI DSS - Payment Card mandates strong authentication where data is stored), legislation and regulations which demand strong authentication . But thanks to all the drivers above, other niches show promising signs, says Parslow.

The care sector, where several NHS Trusts are now opting for biometric based system access, is one such area - the possibility of appeal Biometrics' good patient data protect while it can be quickly opened by authorized medical personnel when needed.

Elsewhere, NEC is involved in the provision of a biometrics-based methadone dosing in 70 prisons, where it is used in the safe administration of the drug-dependent prisoners to . Other vertical leader in biometric take the airline industry - but the situation with Heathrow's much-criticized Terminal 5 - this is not without snags with some human rights organizations claim, for example, that biometric checks are intrusive in such environments, and even against with the Data Protection Act.

The latter is an important point, says Fran Howarth, principal analyst at Quocirca. Although biometrics are definitely an attractive option for controlling access to highly sensitive areas or facilities, rules vary across Europe and even worldwide as how and where biometrics can and can not and should not be used.

and "take in France for such applications as access control is complicated by the fact that the use of biometrics for time and attendance is illegal is considered, "she said says.

Moving forward but Bate Modeller see multimodal biometrics (systems that are different flavors of biometrics can be combined) as the key to creating programs that are both accurate and highly secure - as he himself said, no technology is 100% waterproof. He does think that biometrics will continue to complement other security technologies in place, inevitably, replace them. A PIN is not sufficient ID for a border, he says, but it's still considered sufficient for withdrawing cash from an ATM.

Richard Farnworth, general manager of Enterprise Solutions, NEC UK believes that the death already have been published, fingerprint or iris scan and sees the replacement of smart cards for applications such as building access, PIN-only used as a secondary monitor. This marks Parslow, which is a good business case is vital. "Problems such as PCI DSS and data help drive the adoption of strong authentication," he says. "But in general must be supported by a business case and Organizations compliance or corporate governance requirements could -. For example - use their biometrics investment in their reporting and auditing processes." L 1

As such, it seems clear that the sector continues to develop, most of the problems around her promotion will not apply to the technology, but to understand how they can best fit into business practice where ROI can be achieved.

The Technology meanwhile, looks certain to keep evolving and finding its way into new applications. Facial, behavioral, and environmental approval on the road, scanner-equipped mobile phones are predicted to arrive over the next 12 months, and products such as media players, remote controls, toys, and will probably close follow behind.

The parallels Bond between biometrics and looks forward to holding company. Cool, confident, solid, reliable and - for the producers - big box office.

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