The biometric route to improved access control

November 2010 Access Control & Identity Management

Biometrics is not the silver bullet some would have you believe.

The choice of what technology to use in order to bolster access control in business warrants serious consideration – especially given the undeniable track record of the application of password protection and the increasing interest in biometric technology.

This is the view of Liam Terblanche, CIO at Accsys, a national supplier of payroll, HR, time and attendance and access control solutions. He believes the fact that passwords have been around for so long is quite understandable.

“The principle of using passwords to control access has been with us for centuries. As with any evolutionary process, the good stays while the bad is replaced by something better. Anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence (or a password bank) has the ability to remember words, be it names, ideas, verbs or passwords.”

Passwords are also inexpensive control mechanisms that do not require technology for storage or retrieval. “Passwords can be changed when a threat of discovery or fraud is suspected. And most importantly, a user can minimise the risk of exposure by having a different password for different uses.”

Biometric technology cannot simply replace passwords in all applications without some serious thought. “The most important reason I do not see biometrics replacing all password applications in identity and access management is because of the permanence of biometric characteristics. If someone can hack a network and discover my password, I can simply change it. But if that same person hacks into data traffic, already an existing technology and intercepts my fingerprint templates, what then?”

Terblanche says it is important that the market is not influenced by hype and understands the true significance of biometric technology and the real advantages it offers within specific environments and under the right conditions to address key requirements, including access control.

Biometric solutions require technology and infrastructure to store and retrieve your biological identity traits (fingerprints, iris profiles, voice templates, etc). The absence of a universal biometric modality (one biometric technology that can be used by everyone) means that standardisation is still a long way off. Some people simply do not have fingerprints. Glaucoma and other eye defects and diseases make the use of iris scans non-universal. Facial occlusions, including wearing a Hijb or Niqb have been shown to impede the success of face recognition, for example.

“We are still a few years away from centralising one shared platform that will replace the use of passwords in a global environment,” Terblanche says. He adds that biometrics is being constantly developed and is now being used in a number of creative ways, most notably to control access to companies and to address issues such as buddy clocking, the fraudulent practices of time theft and its impact on resources within the HR environment.

“Mounting evidence suggest that more decision makers are seeing biometric-based technology as a credible, cost effective and more secure access control infrastructure,” he says.


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Managing staff effectively
September 2019, dormakaba South Africa, iPulse Systems , Integrated Solutions, Access Control & Identity Management
Workforce management solutions allow organisations to track the relationship between productivity and the cost of employment, incorporating issues such as health and safety, T&A, rostering and more.

Hennie Lategan joins Centurion as head of exports
September 2019, Centurion Systems , News, Access Control & Identity Management
Centurion Systems has announced the appointment of Hennie Lategan as the head of the company’s exports department.

New AlproMAX7 secures maximum rating
September 2019 , Access Control & Identity Management, Products
Alpro has launched a new range of ultra-secure mechanical mortice deadlocks, the AlproMAX7 which comply with BS EN 12209.

ViRDI UBio Tab 5
September 2019 , Access Control & Identity Management, Products
ViRDI Distribution SA (ViRDI Africa) has announced the release of its long-awaited UBio Tablet to the South African market.

Visitor access control at Ruimsig Country Club
September 2019, Elvey Security Technologies , Access Control & Identity Management, Products
Cost-effective access control solution that would control the ingress and egress of people, without hindering the traffic throughput of members.

Estate-focused visitor management solution
September 2019, Vox Telecom , Access Control & Identity Management, Residential Estate (Industry)
Vox has expanded its cloud-based visitor management solution to cater specifically for the needs of small multi-dwelling unit estates and large residential estates.

Biometrics control airport railroad
September 2019, Suprema , Access Control & Identity Management
63 km railroad to Incheon Airport is centrally controlled and secured by Suprema biometric hardware and software.

Dual energy X-ray inspection system
September 2019, Regal Distributors SA , Products, Access Control & Identity Management
The ZKX6550 X-ray inspection system increases the operator's ability to identify potential threats; the device is designed to scan briefcases, carry-on baggage, small cargo parcels.

ZKTeco parking barrier
September 2019, Regal Distributors SA , Products, Access Control & Identity Management
The PB3000 parking barrier is an ideal automatic car park barrier for parking lot and security control; it can easily integrate with revenue collection and access control systems.

ZKTeco automatic bollard
September 2019, Regal Distributors SA , Products, Access Control & Identity Management
The high-quality automatic bollard is used to protect security areas from vehicle intrusion; in case of power failure, the bollard can be lowered manually.