No two people share the same fingerprint. So, what better way to manage access permissions than with that individually unique feature. Utilizing biometric fingerprints for access control allows a business to create a safe and secure workplace with regulated access to specific areas of a facility.
What Is Biometric Access Control?
Every person is unique, and every individual can be identified by their intrinsic physical traits. Biometric technology can recognize someone based on their special features: facial structure, fingerprint, iris pattern, etc. This technology can then implement a safe and convenient method for certification purposes.
Biometrics is the statistical analysis and measurement of a person’s behavioral and physical characteristics. Biometrics is a science that is based on specific mathematics. By using measuring procedures to make sense of someone’s identity, biometrics is a trustworthy mechanism for access control systems.
How Is Biometrics Access Control Used In A Security System?
Access control systems with biometric integrations, such as fingerprint access control systems, offer a superior security level than different access control systems such as passwords or cards. This is because biometric readers identify individuals, not cards, codes, or fobs. Previously, maximum-security institutions were the only places able to install these systems. However, the cost of biometric access control systems has become equivalent to classic keycard-based access control systems.
Biometric access control systems use biometric scanners to provide authentication. Essentially, biometric access control uses biological data to deny or grant access to a facility’s entrance. What physical traits and biological data are we talking about exactly? The most commonly used biometric access control systems are fingerprint readers, retina, and iris scanners. These forms of access control are rather sophisticated compared to other methods and give an extremely high level of security. Cards and other devices offer significant advantages compared to keys. However, they can be lost or stolen by people. Biometric access control systems, however, rely on the physical, unique characteristics of each user.
The history log is most commonly used for biometric access control systems, like a fingerprint access control system. Possessing the ability to identify when/who has entered a controlled area is a very well-received feature by consumers. Unlike some security systems that rely on keys, a biometric access control system records their date and time of access. Therefore, they can be held accountable for their actions because a log was kept. When someone wishes to enter a door that is controlled, the access control system searches a database and establishes whether the person can access the door or not. If they are granted access, the system records that date and time of entry with the person’s identity for the future.
Biometric access control systems have refashioned the way businesses limit entry to secure different areas in a building. Relying on cards, passwords, keys, or similar devices can be a problem for companies as they can be copied easily, hacked, or stolen a long time before someone can notice that something is wrong. Like fingerprint access control, access control systems provide many benefits since they use many methods: passwords, smart cards, etc. These access control systems are sure to improve your facility’s security.
Why Are Biometrics Used For Security?
Biometrics is the analysis of biological information using technology. This information typically relates specifically to physical traits that an individual might have. Classic access systems have a severe vulnerability: data and objects can be stolen or shared, allowing someone to access sensitive information or gain access to the facility if they were to get a hold of them. This may or may not be an issue depending on how much security is required in each individual’s facility. For example, several different coffee shops use a keypad on their bathroom doors with a passcode printed on their receipt for visitors to only have access to the bathroom, only if they are paying customers.
Most systems will use a short, four-digit code. Putting aside whether or not this is good or bad customer service, in this case, protecting a lock on a public bathroom doesn’t require an immense amount of protection, so a keypad is perfect. However, a system of that sort is wrong for anything requiring a more severe level of security. The issue that arises with passcodes is that, since they are simply information, they can be easily shared and distributed to many people, even if they aren’t authorized. Physical access items such as keys, fobs, and ID cards pose a risk as well. They can be easily stolen or lost, allowing anyone with access to them to access the facility, which is the last thing any business owner wants.
However, with biometrics, those problems are eliminated. Since every individual has a unique biometric code that you can’t lose, it’s nearly impossible for anyone other than the individual to access it.
Knowing what your employees are doing while they are on the clock is always a good idea. Biometrics help to improve accountability, especially if you have employees working nights and weekends. With better, more accurate information about every entrance and exit, the proof is backed by data that is easier to configure, analyze, and report. Keeping an eye on entrances and exits is one thing; however, having even more information is very useful, especially when you want to be sure that your employees, staff, and everyone in the facility is safe.
Identification & Authentication
Using codes and passwords is ordinary but too universal. Essentially, anyone with an access card or code can access your facility (depending on the type of access control permissions that has been put into place). However, biometric security refers to the biological passcodes that cannot be forged, ensuring the individual’s accurate identification. Facial and iris recognition are becoming more popular and are becoming integrated into the security process. Scanning these biometric credentials is quick and straightforward.
Companies demand efficient security systems and want them to be the best of the best. When biometric security is implemented, it can allow your business to run much more smoothly. Biometric systems enhance safety and increase efficiency to manage critical functions, like attendance tracking for payroll. It is also helpful for employees since they don’t need to worry about carrying a card, key fob, etc.
One advantage of a biometric system is convenience. Biometric security gives a layer of protection in bypassing traditional passwords that allow employees to access areas and info that they need to finish their jobs. The need to reset passwords is also eliminated. After the biometric test is activated and fingerprints, iris, and facial recognition are logged, employees are all set. It is even convenient to log data and accordingly audit it.
Dual authentication in access control security systems requires a credential holder representing two forms of authentication. It can be an RFID card, mobile credential (through a smartphone), key fob, or pin-code as the “first” credential offered. Then, the employee will have to double down with a retina eye scan, facial recognition, or fingerprint, validating that they are the same individual who has access to this specific entry point. Dual-Authentication should be used in high-security applications where limiting access to specific personnel is critical to the business operations.
While companies evolve, it’s essential for security systems to grow with them. Even if you are a small business owner without many resources, biometric technology can be incredibly beneficial for growth. One significant advantage of biometric authentication is the ability to scale. These systems are very flexible and can accept additional employee’s data easily. Scalability becomes a lot easier to manage for all stakeholders involved.
After the biometric system is integrated, there becomes no need to invest in any additional capital. This lowers upfront and ongoing investment costs significantly. Systems like these are also crucial in preventing loss due to illegal entries and fraud. That feature alone saves money, all while driving profitability.
Biometrics has rapidly become an integral part of security infrastructure and multi-factor authentication. It provides quick and straightforward verification, audit logs, and analysis. These systems are proving themselves as critical as the industry continues to scale and gets more complex. Even more significant things in biometric security should be expected in the years to come.
The Benefits Of Biometric Access Control Systems
There are several benefits of biometric access control systems.
Difficult to Duplicate
Since biometrics uses someone’s biology to verify their identity, it’s challenging to be taken or used by anyone other than the intended user. Classic access control items like keycards can so easily be lost or duplicated. However, biometrics are much harder to crack since biometric systems use liveness tests to ensure that the data comes from an actual human and not a fake source.
Easy Permission Management
Admins can grant or revoke access directly from their console dashboard, ensuring that only the people granted access would proceed.
Biometric access control systems are incredibly convenient because they allow authorized users to access the facility with nothing but themselves. Their credentials can’t be forgotten or lost.
An individual’s fingerprint biometric ID is always at hand (no pun intended), so no longer are the days of searching for that card or key fob in your wallet or purse. Your hand is now your ID.
Most biometric systems can identify users in less than a second, eliminating the delays caused by identity checks, PINS, or passwords.
Biometric access control systems save companies money by eliminating the need for security staff to man access points. Staffing a facility with several security workers can get extremely expensive.
Zero Replacement Costs
Access control systems that use physical items, like fobs and keycards, often include hidden costs such as replacements. Employees losing or breaking fobs and keycards could frequently occur, especially if the facility is large.
Protects Expensive Equipment
A potential security breach far outweighs the costs of the access control system. In certain facilities such as manufacturing, the use of heavy machinery by unauthorized people could lead to substantial repair costs and possibly detrimental results.
Types Of Biometrics Used For Acess Control
There are different types of biometrics for unlocking access to your facility.
Fingerprint access control is an excellent option for companies to put into place, as these systems are difficult to hack. No password or any data is required to be inputted into the system. Instead, fingerprint access control fully utilizes biometric technology. Biometric access control fingerprint readers will scan a person and match their data with what is previously stored in the database. If the info matches, the individual then can access the secured area or resources.
When fingerprints were first used for criminal investigations in the early 1900s, they were compared slowly by hand. You’d take a fingerprint from a crime scene and another from the suspect and simply compare them under a magnifying glass. So, how can a computer compare fingerprints? Each print is analyzed for specific features called minutiae, which is where the lines in your fingerprint split in two.
The computer measures the distances and angles between them and uses an algorithm to turn the information into a numeric code. Comparing fingerprints then is just a matter of comparing their unique codes. If the codes match, the prints match, and the person can gain access.
Retinal scanning is one of the most well-known biometric technologies. Retinal scans map out the unique patterns of a person’s retina. The retina’s blood vessels absorb light more easily than the surrounding tissues and are easily identified with applicable lighting.
A retinal scan is performed by casting an unperceived beam of low-energy, infrared light into someone’s eye as they look into the scanner. The light beam then traces a standardized path on the retina. After the scanner device captures a retinal image, the software compiles retinal blood vessels’ unique features into a template.
Retinal scan algorithms require a high-quality image and won’t allow a user to enroll or verify until the system can capture an image of excellent quality. The retina template is usually one of the smallest of any biometric technology.
Facial recognition software compares the face presented at the point of access to a database of authorized persons to determine a match. If there is a match, access will be granted, and if there is no match, access is denied. Facial recognition compares faces and determines whether there is a match between the presented face and authorized people’s database.
In the majority of cases, the software does not store actual facial images in that database. Instead, it converts facial images into a faceprint at the time of enrollment into the database. It’s important to note that the faceprints can’t be reverse-engineered into the original image. Even if the faceprints are stolen or hacked into, they can’t be tied to a specific individual without using the initial software that created those faceprints.
What Types of Industries Use Biometric Access Control?
Biometric identification is widely used in many industries. Some of them are listed below:
Biometric access control is gaining popularity in the cannabis industry. Cannabis tech companies have even developed a biometric marijuana vending machine. These machines verify the age and legal status of a consumer. On the operational side, safe manufacturers have created biometric locking mechanisms on their safes. These locking systems use biometric authentication to protect a cannabis company’s assets and inventories from unauthorized persons.
Biometric identification technology is the most practical and proactive approach for internal controls in growing areas. This system allows employees and staff to move around the facility while providing restricted partitioned access to the facility’s high-security areas like labs, secured storage, and cash storage. Biometrics access control systems offer tracking options to track trips from the grow farms to the dispensaries. Fingerprint biometric authentication can also provide mobile tracking options and audits for the cannabis product being shipped with transport vehicles.
Starters and retail operations, like dispensaries, can store a large amount of cash on hand, as well as vast inventories of cannabis. Therefore, cannabis owners must implement biometric access control systems for their facilities as a proactive measure against criminal activities and stay ahead of compliance standards.
Financial & Banking
With the increase of digitization in banking services, banks have adopted strict employee identification protocols to prevent criminal activities. Biometric identification technology has become an integral part of the financial security. Biometric technology provides a robust authentication platform for securing ATMs, online transactions, and much more. Banking sectors have implemented biometric access control to authenticate employees and bank customers through secured authenticated access. The system is a much easier, faster, and reliable way of authorization in banks. There is no doubt that biometrics such as fingerprint, iris scan, voice recognition, and facial recognition offer more enhanced security than traditional PIN and password authentication. Biometrics in banking provides secure online and mobile banking, protection against insider fraud, faster customer care service, and much more.
Biometric access control is solely a niche solution for protecting areas such as warehouses and storage rooms. Biometrics remains the most convenient and secure way of entering a facility without hassle. Border control uses biometric integrated identity cards and e-passports.
Airports & Transportation
The airport and transportation industries have highly benefited from the implementation of biometric technology. Facial matching and facial identification techniques play a critical role in enhancing checkpoints’ security by replacing the current manual ID verification procedures. Fingerprint scanners can be added at sensitive areas such as jetway doors, hatches to the roof, etc. Rooms with baggage belts leading out to aircraft are now protected with a three-factor authorization system – an ID badge, a pin code, and who you are via biometric ID. This prevents unauthorized people from entering the airport and other transportation areas. International travel and trade can also be protected from criminal acts.
Elements Of A Biometric Access Control Solution
Biometric readers identify the person by comparing specific attributes of their physiological being or behavioral traits against a sample database.
Door controllers are a centralized part of the access control system that connects all the software, readers, and locks. In layman’s terms, it’s the component that combines everything in the security system.
Electronic / Wireless Locks
Electronic or wireless locks are a credential or locking device which operates using electric current, wires, or batteries. They are connected to the access control systems for key controls to manage each user’s access levels. Every access attempt is record and gets stored in the system. They can also be remotely monitored and controlled.
Control software manages the access of each user. It is the process of physical storage in a standard software library that enables authenticated access to the user entering the property.
Alternative Access Control Solutions
There are many alternatives to access control solutions. Some of them are:
Key-Based Access Control
Key-based access control is an authentication process to confirm the user’s identity by using asymmetric cryptography algorithms with public and private keys. The concept is to assign asymmetric keys to individual users. Users can store their public keys in each system, while their private keys would be kept secured in the computers. While establishing a connection, the server would use the public key to authorize the user by encrypting a number and asking the user to decrypt it using their corresponding private key.
Touchless Access Control Solutions
Touchless access control systems provide hands-free solutions to protect the organization from the spread of germs and allow easy entry into the facility. During pandemic situations, it’s highly essential to stay protected by not touching shared objects. This solution has gained even more popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The system enables easy entry either by waving a hand in front of the reader, unlocking by mobile app or Bluetooth, and utilizing facial recognition techniques.
Password & Knowledge-Based Access Control
Password-based access control is one of the most popular access control methods. It is the easiest way to gain access to the facility by just entering a pin or password into the reader. However, the system’s disadvantage is that passwords may eventually be revealed and lead to severe organizational issues. Therefore, it’s essential to protect your facility with enhanced security methods like touchless access control or key-based access control.
Knowledge-based access control is a system that allows entry based on a secret question that the user might have set previously. If the user can answer the question correctly, they will gain access to the facility.
Biometric System Installation Considerations
It’s essential to consider the factors below before installing a biometric access control system in your facility.
- Conduct an audit of your current infrastructure. Conduct an onsite audit to check on the existing infrastructure and see how well it matches up against your current security policies.
- Which biometric modality is best for your business? The most common biometric modalities are fingerprint, facial recognition, iris, palm vein, and finger vein.
- Multimodal Biometric vs. Unimodal Biometric Systems. It’s essential to keep in mind that you should never rely on one form of security. It is wiser to have multiple layers of protection. Make sure the systems are compatible with the existing security systems before installation.
- Biometric Hardware. There are various forms of biometric hardware available in the market; choosing the right product that meets your business’s needs is essential.
- Consider the Return of Investment (ROI). If you have decided to implement a biometric system, you must understand the Return on Investment (ROI). For example, if you have to deploy five fingerprint scanners at five different access points, first consider deploying only one fingerprint scanner at one central point for a short time. Using this approach, you can quantify your ROI if you want to do a system-wide deployment.
In conclusion, biometric systems have become popular for many reasons. Classically, there is a convenience tradeoff when switching to more secure technology; however, biometric technology is one of the few examples in security where an upgrade increases convenience. When it comes to access control systems, you can’t go wrong with biometrics!
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