Offering Biometric Solutions to Meet Customers’ Security Needs

Installing contractors are discovering that biometrics, once a much maligned technology segment, offer practical solutions to meet clients’ security needs. Learn how to eliminate keys or cards to reduce administrative costs.

[IMAGE]12244[/IMAGE]Embedded Wares Thwart Hacking

Breaches of security are minimized in many ways. One way is to literally limit the windows of opportunity for infringement. For instance, if the database of those authorized for access to a facility is not reliant on networking hardware systems, the chance for someone to infiltrate the system is reduced as are the possibilities of downtime. One cannot hack what’s not there. What’s not there cannot break down.

That’s what embedded biometrics add to a system. When biometrics are embedded, no PC nor other IT elements are involved in managing the database at the door. In some instances, this level of integration can be achieved without reporting to an external access control system.

Embedded systems come in two different varieties. One has been used for some time and is seldom even thought of as an embedded system. It’s the aforementioned standalone biometric reader, which manages biometric templates within the reader. The other is newer, where the biometric template management is actually performed by a card.

As an alternative to a keypad, some biometric readers also have a card reader input capability, the most common being proximity and smart cards, although other technologies are also supported. At the biometric unit, the user swipes their card, which contains their ID number. If verified, that card number is sent up to the panel for a decision. 

If one is not authorized to enter, the reader at the location, without checking elsewhere, tells that person they cannot enter. Likewise, if authorized, the person can enter without the reader having to verify from a remote location.

Added Layer of Smart Protection

Integrating biometrics with cards and/or smart cards is quickly becoming a more common solution. There’s a very good reason. With traditional card access, in the time span between when a badge is lost to when it is subsequently reported missing, that badge is still alive and active in the system. By adding a biometric to the access control system, a badge alone cannot be used to gain access.

For example, a single smart card can store both the user’s ID number and biometric template. Because of this, there is no need to distribute hand templates across a network of readers or require the access control system to manage biometric templates. This means integration to any existing access control application is greatly simplified, eliminating extra network infrastructure costs.

Because the template only resides on the card, the solution also eases individual privacy concerns. In most applications involving smart cards and embedded biometrics, hand geometry is preferred since a hand template uses up only 9 bytes versus an average of 300 bytes required by finger-scan readers per finger. 

Offering the best of smart cards and biometrics, the solution provides dual authentication by requesting both the right card and the right person. A smart card reader is embedded into the biometric reader. A plastic cardholder is affixed to the side of the unit. The verification process takes approximately one second and is virtually foolproof.

ensures that response times are fast and that the smart card can maximize its benefits by offering users increased room for other applications. In addition, the implementation supports multiple secure applications on the smart cards. Possible applications include the storage of additional information to allow for secure log on to a PC or laptop and accessing the company’s network.

A Solution for Most Any Project

You won’t be alone in proposing biometrics. Upon learning how easy the technology is to implement, sales are growing like a hockey stick graph. 

In its “North American Government Biometrics Markets” report, research firm Frost & Sullivan stated that biometrics sales are estimated to reach $9.5 billion by 2014. Just about every major national government uses them as do nuclear power plants and other high security locations.

Large data centers run by companies such as Equinix, Level 3, Qwest Communications, XO Communications, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, IBM, Bell South, Siemens and others have used biometric hand readers from suppliers such as Schlage at the entrance, on the security corridor and on the individual customer areas. The readers are utilized at facilities of varying size and traffic flow, including college recreation centers, large and small companies, plus tennis clubs, gymnasiums and other work out centers.

After all, if the goal of an access control system is to control where people, not credentials, can and cannot go, then only a biometric device truly provides this capability to the end user. That’s why more and more installing security contractors are proposing biometrics as part of an overall security plan.

Jennifer Toscano is Portfolio Marketing Manager, Credentials, Readers, Software and Controls for Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.

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