In the business world, it’s a common refrain these days that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were already underway. And in the world of enterprise biometrics, that is certainly the case.
September is the Digital Transformation in the Enterprise Special Event at FindBiometrics, and while we will certainly be discussing some of the general, long-term trends in this sector, it’s impossible to avoid touching on the impact of COVID-19; indeed, as we will explore, the virus’s effects on businesses around the world are intertwined with a lot of the transformational shifts that were already underway.
Physical Access Goes Contactless
Physical access control is a case in point. Organizations around the world have increasingly been turning to biometric access control in recent years, allowing employees to ditch their traditional key fobs in favor of systems that can automatically open doors after recognizing a staffer’s face or fingerprints. Such biometric systems can improve efficiency, reduce help desk requests, and provide enhanced security, eliminating the dangers of keycards falling into the wrong hands, or PINs getting compromised.
Contactless versions of these biometric solutions – which most commonly leverage face, voice and iris recognition – were already coming into the spotlight before the pandemic. Now, they’re front and center, with employers recognizing the safety benefits of letting staff gain access to facilities without the need to touch anything or interact with others.
Passwords: Now Even More Outdated
Tied to this trend is the ongoing displacement of password-based security systems within the enterprise. This is another long-term trend that has been accelerating in recent years and months as employers and CISOs have recognized both the rising number of cyberthreats and the heightened security benefits of biometric authentication.
Whereas previously employees tended to access a company’s IT assets through a username/password combination, biometric systems like face and fingerprint authentication are being used across a growing number of organizations for this purpose. Such solutions can reduce administrative costs by speeding up account recovery, and can even be tied to more traditional passwords to let employees quickly access assets without having to remember complex combinations or characters.
And here, too, COVID-19 has helped to push things along. Businesses have rapidly had to shift to remote work setups to accommodate social distancing, and that means reliable authentication is more critical than ever as hackers and cybercriminals look for back doors into enterprise assets.
Stopping the Virus
What’s really new in the enterprise sector this year is the matter of dealing with the spread of COVID-19 itself. It’s an unprecedented threat, and individual businesses have as much of an interest in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus as everyone else – both for the greater good of community health and for the purpose of ensuring that business operations can continue.
To that end, new biometric solutions have emerged in recent months. There are now a number of offerings that combine facial recognition with temperature screening on the premise that employees or visitors who have an elevated temperature – a sign of possible fever, which is a symptom of COVID-19 – can be flagged at the door and prevented from entering.
We’re also starting to see the emergence of solutions that combine biometric identification with location tracking in order to facilitate contact tracing within the workplace, another tactic that can help administrators to mitigate the spread of the virus.
No one knows how long these COVID-mitigation solutions will be in the mix, but it’s fair to expect that more will continue to emerge in the near term. Meanwhile, the other trends that have brought biometrics into enterprise access control and ushered out the password are poised to continue their rapid progression into the future.
We’ll be digging more into all of these aspects of Digital Transformation in the Enterprise as September rolls on.
September 9, 2020 – by Alex Perala