Biometrics vs passwords: passwords - a weak link in an organisation's IT security

Access & Identity Management Handbook 2006 Access Control & Identity Management

People tend to use short and easy-to-­remember passwords as they do not wish to be troubled each time they gain access to a system.

Biometric technology uses one or more physical identifiers to determine the individual's identification. This may be a fingerprint, iris or retina scan, hand size, vein scan, signature, voice, 2D or 3D face.

With biometrics, a biometric feature (face, finger, voice etc) is securely stored by the software and/or hardware during an enrolment stage. Once the user requires access to the system, a verification stage begins. In this stage, the individual who is present has his/her biometric identifiers compared against what is already stored on the database. If verified correctly, the user gains access to the system. There is no need to remember a long password by memory or to write it down, where it could be compromised.

People tend to be very trusting with passwords, either deliberately or by error. Passwords are then disclosed to unauthorised users. At other times, a password may be compromised by someone watching the user enter it into the system. With biometrics, there is no chance of this happening. The authorised user needs to be in place at that time to gain access to that system.

Another common habit is the use of the same password for several applications. In this scenario, if a non-authorised user gains access to an individual's password and the password is the same, all applications are open to him. With biometrics, each application will have the same level of security without the need for lengthy password lists.

Standard passwords require changing on a regular basis such as when users forget a password, a staff member leaves the organisation or simply as a security routine. These all lead to an increased load on the organisation's IT support. This also decreases the staff member's productivity and/or customer service, as he/she cannot gain access to their work. With biometrics, once the user is properly enrolled his biometric template will remain on the system until he/she leaves the organisation.

With traditional password-enabled systems, the IT administrator has no real proof of who accessed the system. The authorised user can argue that his password had been lost or compromised by an outsider. With biometrics, one has solid proof of the person's presence during access.

For those complaining of the cost, the financial benefits of biometrics far outweigh any of the initial or future costs involved in procuring hardware and/or software licensing.

Software and hardware biometric products are now available that can be integrated into almost any existing or new software application. With these, customers can easily replace standard password access control with biometric hardware and software.

For more information contact Nathan Bearman, Eagle Biometrics, +27 (0) 21 423 4943, nathan@eagle.co.za, www.eaglebiomtrics.co.za





Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Weatherproof Bluetooth padlock
Issue 4 2020, ASSA ABLOY South Africa , Access Control & Identity Management
The new ABLOY BEAT locking solution includes a novel digital key, a mobile app and an IP68-rated, weatherproof Bluetooth padlock.

Read more...
Touch-free face recognition terminals
Issue 4 2020, Hikvision South Africa , Access Control & Identity Management
Hikvision announces touch-free MinMoe face recognition terminals for easier access control and time and attendance.

Read more...
Contactless T&A
Issue 4 2020, LD Africa , Access Control & Identity Management
Matrix COSEC APTA is a mobile-based employee portal, allowing COSEC users to monitor and manage all their time and attendance, total working hours and leave options.

Read more...
New touchless upgrades
Issue 4 2020 , Access Control & Identity Management
Invixium upgrades touchless biometrics technology and introduces fever detection enhancement kit.

Read more...
Expanded entrance control
Issue 4 2020, Gunnebo Africa , Access Control & Identity Management
Gunnebo entrance control solutions are now available with body temperature control and building capacity management functionality.

Read more...
Entrance control from Axis
Issue 4 2020, Axis Communications SA , Access Control & Identity Management
Access control solutions from Axis offer flexibility, agility and open platforms that are fit for both today’s needs and tomorrow’s.

Read more...
Paxton releases latest door entry monitor
Issue 4 2020, Paxton Access , Access Control & Identity Management
Paxton has added to its video entry product line by launching its next generation standard monitor – the Entry Standard monitor.

Read more...
Safety in work and education
Issue 4 2020, ASSA ABLOY South Africa , Access Control & Identity Management
Mobile access technology provides innovative ways of keeping safe in work and educational environments.

Read more...
SALTO KS integrates with FICHAJ.ES T&A software
Issue 4 2020, Salto Systems Africa , Access Control & Identity Management
The technology partnership allows SALTO KS users to add attendance features to its cloud-based wireless smart access control solution.

Read more...
32-inch touchscreen for facial recognition
Issue 4 2020, ZKTeco , Access Control & Identity Management
FaceKiosk-V43 is ZKTeco’s multipurpose facial recognition smart device running on Android with a 32-inch touch screen to provide a friendly and interactive user experience.

Read more...