As we continue to move into the digital age, security has become one of the greatest concerns of our technologically integrated lives. A vast percentage of people in any first-world country own a smartphone, use a computer, or have access to the internet. We store our pictures, memories, personal information, and our lives on our devices. And what do we use to protect ourselves? A password. Maybe it is a four-digit code or a more complex array of connected dots, either way, passwords are what stands between our privacy and exposure in our digitized world.
This reach of connectedness has also made its way into the hands of today’s workforce. With more and more handheld devices being used in day-to-day operations, a greater burden of security has been placed upon companies to keep their data secure. Strong passwords are a start to protect information, but additional authentication methods can improve security and also improve efficiency. We have seen many features of consumer devices make their way to rugged devices, and the latest hardware security feature to make that jump is biometric readers. Manufacturers have added front-facing cameras and fingerprint readers to their newest models and will continue to invest in those areas.
In a professional setting, shared networks, devices, and computers not only host sensitive company information but the bank accounts, addresses, and other personal data of their employees.
Biometric Authentication may be the best line of defense standing between your organization’s most important data and a potential cyber attack.
What is Biometric Login?
Biometric Authentication is a form of data security that identifies individuals based on their unique biological characteristics such as fingerprints, faces, voices, or other biometric identifiers.
Authenticators can be used to grant access to buildings, computer systems, databases, secure networks, devices, and so much more.
For shared device environments, biometric authentication can greatly increase the security an enterprise needs to maintain a secure digital workspace. By limiting access to company systems via employees’ physical attributes, there is an extra sense of comfort in the workplace. Now, security goes beyond just something you know (password) and includes who you are (biometrics).
The strength of biometric authentication lies in the unique nature of its requirements; utilizing biological information makes for a far more secure user experience than a traditional password that can easily be shared.
However this is in no way a perfect system, and biometric authentication methods have the potential to be hacked no differently than other password or security systems. It is important to stay informed about the latest technologies and biometric information to keep your enterprise secure.
In this article, we will be detailing how biometric authentication can work for you in the workplace, where it thrives, how it works, and why you should make the switch to a more secure and also efficient user experience.
How does it Authenticate End-Users?
Biometric Authentication works similarly to a password, except that the end-user’s unique physical attributes are their password. Where digits and numerals would be used for authentication, a biometric authenticator uses the pattern or image of a physical trait such as your fingerprint or face to grant entry to shared systems, company databases, and physical buildings.
Everyone who needs access to a particular database or device is limited to their biological characteristics. A system will only give permission to a user who matches the biological information, such as a fingerprint, that is on file.
For example, if an organization was using a fingerprint scanner to authenticate users, their biometric technology would most likely read the lines and grooves of a fingerprint to make a digital hash for storage. This is opposed to an exact picture or a replica of someone’s finger because of certain privacy laws that are set in place to protect individual privacy. The EU has a very strict regulation known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which protects individual data by regulating how information is stored and used. Their official site states, “data includes genetic, biometric, and health data, as well as personal data revealing racial and ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or ideological convictions or trade union membership.”
Therefore, most systems wishing to utilize biometric authentication typically leverage the digital mapping strategy instead of true copies to protect a user’s identity from hackers. The mapped value of the fingerprint is then stored securely into the device’s system where it can not be accessed. Naturally, the copy needs to be secured properly since a compromised fingerprint could threaten the personal safety and future security of a user. When a person places their finger on a scanner the system will trace out the lines of their fingerprint and match it to the digital map on file, eventually granting access once the fingerprint is recognized.
Matches do not have to be 100% accurate per the personal privacy regulations and the technology’s advanced understanding that biological attributes may become scarred or affected by natural causes.
This is an ideal scenario for enterprises that have workspaces with shared devices because authentication time is much quicker than entering a traditional password.
In a workplace utilizing biometric authentication, every person already has their own password, making this form of authentication one of the most secure options for any enterprise that uses shared technology.
What are the Different Types of Authentication?
There are many different forms of biometric authentication that can help organizations with a variety of security wants and needs.
- Fingerprint Authentication
- One of the most common forms of biometric authentication. Uses a person’s fingerprint to create a digital mapped value that can later be used to authenticate a user into a shared system or location.
- Facial Recognition
- An emerging technology that is continuing to gain more traction in the mobile world with companies like Apple and Android beginning to integrate forms of facial recognition into their company-owned devices.
- Much like fingerprint authentication, facial recognition uses a mapped value of an individual’s facial features to create a unique passcode within a system.
- Facial recognition requires special hardware such as a high-resolution front-facing camera that can detect and match facial features to the stored mapped value.
- Voice Identification
- Less common in consumer and enterprise use, voice ID uses the waveforms of a person’s voice to confirm their identity.
- This technology has begun to appear in the consumer market with devices like Amazon’s Alexa which has the capability to recognize and remember individual voices by tracing and storing vocal patterns.
- Retina Scanning
- On the horizon is retina scanning, but the hardware is still a few years away from reaching the enterprise market.
Where is it Used?
In 2013 Apple released their iPhone 5s which featured the first-ever fingerprint scanner on an iOS home button. It was used to authenticate users and unlock the device as a faster and more secure alternative to their standard numerical passcode. While fingerprint scanning was not a new invention in 2013, it was one of the first times that the consumer market would get a hold of this technology, and it has become a staple across almost every smartphone ever since.
Among the many use cases for biometric authentications, the fingerprint ID scanner on modern-day smartphones is the most common and well-known form. Essentially all major players in the mobile device market have some form of biometric login at work. It is second nature for most smartphone users to log in to their devices and applications with their fingerprints.
With smartphones being in the hands of a majority of today’s workforce, having shared devices with biometric authentication would be a natural transition from a password for many users.
Biometric login alleviates the need for users to remember complex passwords, or worry about their data knowing that only their unique biological traits can be used to access their information. This is an ideal solution for enterprises that command a fleet of shared Android devices that have to be accessed by multiple employees.
Options for Retail Environments
Android is the leader in mobile enterprise technology, providing the most customizable and streamlined user experience for the retail workforce with their range of rugged devices. Android has a plethora of devices fitted with a fingerprint scanner, which makes for a more secure user experience in the work environment.
Due to the vast number of Android and smartphone users being acclimated to using fingerprint scanners, biometric login will feel comfortable and familiar in the workplace.
Unlocking a shared Android device with a fingerprint means a quicker login time and better employee performance. It gives employees the confidence to perform highly on a daily basis without the anxiety of forgetting or having to reset their password on the job.
This allows an organization’s Helpdesk team to focus on maintaining the security of daily operations knowing that employees no longer have to flood the call center will annoying password reset requests. In turn, this clears up the ticket queue and boosts overall business productivity.
In addition to providing a secure login experience, biometric authentication can also be used for point of sale operations. Android devices allow users to make purchases from the Google Play store with their fingerprint scanners. This can be translated to the retail environment as devices can be used to make sales on the floor with tools like Oracle Xstore which require biometric authentication
Our BlueFletch Enterprise Launcher is built to perform on the rugged Android devices that employees rely on. Enterprise Launcher comes integrated with the latest biometric login software to create digital maps and securely store biometric data on enterprise devices so your company doesn’t have to worry about potential data leaks.
The Enterprise Launcher works alongside existing Android biometric authentication technology to provide a safer end-user experience.
Passwords vs. Biometrics
Passwords have long been the standard security measure for every electronic device, shared system, or digital database. However, with the increased dependence on technology and the rise in cybercrime, passwords have become weaker and less sustainable.
Biometric authentication alleviates the need for users to remember complex passwords, or worry about their data knowing that only their unique biological traits can be used to access their information.
Passwords are vulnerable to being leaked, and unfortunately, many users never learn how to make the most secure passwords, leaving their information exposed. This attribute carries over to the corporate world where employees find their passwords being leaked despite trying to follow their company’s password regulations. If your enterprise does not have a strong enough IT team to implement password security, your information could be at risk.
Biometric login can combat some of the weaknesses of passwords by providing a better login experience. Fingerprints can not be written down or stolen in the same way that a password can, but that does not mean hackers can’t access the digitized versions.
Despite being more secure than a traditional password, biometric information is not 100% safe as savvy hackers can still find a way to steal fingerprint patterns and other identifiers that are not properly secured. It is crucial that organizations utilize the proper software and technology to store biometric information.
Unlike passwords, the biometric hash is stored in a device, not a cloud. A user’s fingerprint or facial pattern should be locked into each device they need access to, not a network or cloud system. If stored in a compromised position hackers can easily access the digital maps and gain entry to workplace systems.
It is the responsibility of an organization’s leaders to do everything in their power to protect and serve the employees that make their business run on a daily basis. In a lot of work environments, this empowerment comes in the form of shared devices and technology. Shared devices such as mobile rugged Androids, ruggedized iOS smartphones, and other technology keep a workplace running efficiently by allowing employees to work faster and smarter.
Making the switch to biometric authentication might be the change your enterprise needs to create a safe and secure work environment for your end-users. By keeping device and workplace systems protected.
For more information about how BlueFletch can help your enterprise adopt safer enterprise security features on your mobile devices, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org