Biometrics in a card: Workplace security, no matter where you are
November 2020 by Maria Pihlström, Global Marketing Manager, Fingerprint Cards AB
Increasing workplace security has been a long-standing issue for many organizations, with traditional security measures no longer aligned with modern needs. Passwords, for example, are easily hacked and carry the risk of serious data breaches. Moreover, employees have to remember an array of different codes across devices and accounts, leading not only to reuse and frustration, but costing enterprise IT departments millions a month in resetting forgotten passwords.
Unsurprisingly, then, the demand for more secure and seamless access methods has been rising. One 2019 Gartner study predicted that 60% of large and global enterprises, along with 90% of mid-size enterprises, will implement passwordless authentication methods in over half of use cases by 2022. This year has put even more pressure on the need for increased workplace security as well as convenience for the employees. Although flexible working was already a growing trend, it has accelerated significantly in the light of the pandemic and remote working mandates, increasing the average cost of a workplace data breach by $137,000. In addition, employees have started working more flexible hours on-premises, making building access less regulated and more susceptible to attack.
To minimize crime and financial losses, enterprises need more control over who can access their buildings, or offices - wherever they might be - and access to their servers and digital data. With biometrics gathering momentum beyond smartphones, it can offer more secure and convenient authentication across the workplace that could be at the office, at home or even at a café.
On the cards: Why biometrics?
Biometric access cards can be thought of as a modern-day key that combines access with a multiuse such as an ID badge. Each access card is linked to one specific cardholder, who registers their fingerprint on the card. When entering a building or office, or logging into any system, the card’s biometrics must match the person using the card, ensuring that only authorized employees gain access. Since unique biological traits are extremely difficult to steal and spoof, biometric access cards are more secure than traditional access cards and fobs that require PINs, or no additional authentication. Compared to existing solutions, the technology is also more convenient. You can’t forget your fingerprint, after all, not to mention there’s the possibility to streamline authentication across the workplace. And if it gets lost or stolen, no one else can use it. There’s no need to tap or touch a shared PIN pad or reader either, as the card is contactless. These benefits are often far simpler to realize than many enterprises imagine. Biometric cards can be integrated into existing infrastructure across offices, enabling improved workplace security that is convenient for both employers and their employees. And because the biometric data is stored and processed on the card, privacy is guaranteed for employees, while organizations don’t have the cost, complexity and compliance headaches associated with managing biometric databases.
Adding security and convenience where it matters
Use cases for biometric access cards are numerous. Besides unlocking doors, the cards can also be used for any other new or existing authentication access point across the workplace, such as logging into work computers or digital files, accessing time and attendance systems, and resetting alarm systems. The benefits of increased and more convenient security reach far beyond keeping burglars out. From preventing industry espionage to managing personnel in vital industries, let’s take a look at three examples where biometric access cards can add security where it matters.
In Healthcare, whether for certain wards, drugs cabinets or operation rooms – protected access is crucial. Moreover, with two-factor authentication already in place for many access points or to review patient data, traditional methods can add time pressure to often busy workdays. Combining security and convenience, biometric cards can strengthen access control systems, while removing a point of friction for many healthcare professionals. The UK’s NHS is just one example that’s recently announced its investing £40 million in implementing biometrics to remedy staff stress and frustration with the legacy IT system access process.
In a pharmacy setting, biometric access cards can also ensure that only qualified employees have access to certain medications. Similarly, it can conveniently unlock the issuance of medicine in digital systems for permitted staff and allow them – and only them – to review and update the personal health information of their patients.
Keeping corporate secrets
Corporations and enterprises hold many highly sensitive files that, if stolen or otherwise compromised, could damage the company or individuals. From legal offices to accountancy firms, biometric access cards could not only keep offices highly secure but also lock devices and certain files on a company’s system. By locking digital files with biometrics, only employees working on a particular project would have access to the information, ensuring that confidential information is no longer at the mercy of easily hacked passwords. And when files do disappear or fall into the wrong hands, a meticulous record showing who last had access to the office or information, can facilitate a smoother investigation of the data breach.
Labs and R&D departments are often subject to industry espionage. In this type of workplace, biometric access cards can ensure sensitive information stays under lock and (digital) key.
But ideas are not the only thing kept safe by the cards. Because labs can contain dangerous materials, substances and machinery, controlled access is even more important. Biometrics can enable more controlled and secure access, ensuring hazardous premises are only accessible to trained and authorized personnel.
Research departments are also often sensitive and sterile test environments and require meticulous logs of who has entered an area or operated a machine. Biometric security systems can reduce errors in attendance logging, creating more predictable test environments and, ultimately, facilitating more accurate test results.
Beyond cost savings and worriless workdays
Hacked and forgotten passwords cost IT departments millions a year, while lost keys and forgotten passwords are a number one frustration for many employees.
Biometric access cards can provide a more convenient and secure authentication solution for both physical and logical access control, offering a solution to security breaches and the need to remember multiple strong passwords.
But the technology can go beyond just cost savings for IT teams and reducing daily annoyances. By offering improved security in high-stake industries, biometrics can ensure that medication is authorized by the right person, compromising information is kept confidential, and inventors keep control of their intellectual property.
In this way, biometric access cards bring a whole new dimension to worriless workdays, unlocking a modern workplace security system that adds convenient security where it truly matters.