Biometric technologies tended to be seen in the past as hi-tech tools for use by military and law enforcement agencies, but the biometrics boom of the last couple of decades has seen a proliferation of such technologies in additional areas, with the enterprise sector being one of the most important. The massive wave of digitization that has swept the business world has led to the need for new forms of security for the protection of internal assets; and at the same time, the longstanding need for on-premise physical security is starting to be transformed by new, highly effective biometric access control technologies.
As momentous as this trend is, biometrics in the enterprise still has something of the shock of the new when it comes to actual deployments – however mainstream biometric technologies are now, they are definitely still seen as hi-tech, almost to the point of science fiction. With that in mind, a good approach to understanding this revolution is to take a look at some of the more innovative solutions that are currently blazing a trail in the enterprise sector.
BYOD and Face ID
A number of solutions have sought to take advantage of another trend that digitization has delivered to the workplace: Bring Your Own Device culture. Employees are increasingly using their own smartphones at work, whether it’s for accessing important files or simply replying to emails. We’re used to using our phones for everything, so why not add authentication to the mix?
Ipsidy, for example, launched a new app last year that is designed to let employees verify their identities with a selfie: you simply take a photo of yourself, and then the Ipsidy App uses facial recognition technology to create a biometric template that you can be matched against going forward. And the system comes with a suite of developer tools that lets enterprise administrators configure it to perfectly suit their particular needs.
It’s an approach that is increasingly being used to onboard customers in the financial services sector, and it has blown up in popularity since Apple’s launch of the Face ID authentication system in 2017. And this Face ID-style approach is also being used to replace a traditional workplace staple: the employee ID badge.
Indeed, an Apple engineer who actually helped to develop Face ID is now leveraging his expertise through a new startup called Alcatraz AI that has been developing a system that can learn to recognize employees by their faces. Stationed at the main entrance to a workplace, for example, it just needs to see a staffer flash her badge for a couple of days, and then it knows her by face. In other words, the system can essentially replace the security guard at a facility’s gate. And this is a proposition that investors are excited about, with Alcatraz AI having raked in $6 million in VC through a recent funding round.
Back to BYOD, though: facial recognition isn’t the end of the story. While it may be the current ‘it’ modality, others are very much in play in enterprise authentication. IriSafe, for example, is looking to iris recognition as a convenient means of identification in the workplace. And what’s more, it recently teamed up with GoChain to combine iris biometrics with blockchain technology to provide a highly secure identity management solution for the enterprise. With the uniqueness of iris biometrics, and the immutability of blockchain accounting, which requires information to be stored on a shared digital ledger, this could offer an identity solution with unprecedented reliability in verifying user identities.
Another biometric modality that is quickly gaining traction is behavioral biometrics, which revolves around the analysis of patterns in user behavior – often things like how someone types, moves a mouse, or even how they hold a smartphone. This newer form of biometrics hasn’t yet reached a level of reliability in which it can be used as the sole means of user identification, but a wide range of organizations have begun to see the benefits of combining it with other modalities for even more secure authentication. And Veridium, for example, is bringing that approach to the enterprise, with a new mobile-focused solution that adds behavioral biometrics to the kind of facial or fingerprint authentication supported by contemporary smartphones: by collecting motion data from the smartphone while a user performs authentication, Veridium’s InMotion app can make authentication in the workplace even more secure – helping to ensure that enterprise assets are kept safe, even if they’re being accessed through an employee’s personal device.
Versatility and Scalability
And it’s this kind of multimodal support that may ultimately be the key to enterprise biometrics. Needs and infrastructure vary widely across different organizations, so being able to implement different kinds of technologies for different situations – and at a range of scales – is critical. This is where companies like IDEMIA and BioConnect are helping to lead the way. IDEMIA’s vast security solutions portfolio includes facial, fingerprint, and palm biometrics technologies, and its newly-formed Secure Enterprise Transactions division is bringing them to bear on the enterprise market.
BioConnect, meanwhile, offers a flexible, enterprise-focused identity platform that supports facial, fingerprint, eye, voice, and behavioral biometrics – all of which can be ascertained from a mobile app, accommodating the ongoing BYOD trend. And the company is working on upgrades for its access control offering that will allow third party biometric solutions to be incorporating, adding even more flexibility.
These solutions demonstrate the innovation and ingenuity underway in the fast-growing enterprise biometrics industry. And if the current pace of advancement offers any indication, it’s clear that businesses and other organizations are going to have some even more highly sophisticated identity security tools at their disposal in the years to come.
April 11, 2019 – by Alex Perala