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News

Biometrics Still Being Left Behind for Logical Access Control

Siemens IT Solutions And Services : 10 December, 2010  (Technical Article)
Siemens reports on the low uptake of biometric technology despite the ever increasing needs for secure access to sensitive data
New research from Siemens IT Solutions and Services, conducted amongst biometrics decision-makers, has revealed that only 18% of organisations with biometric measures currently in place are using them for logical access control - vital to securing IT equipment and data files. Despite acknowledging the need for greater IT security in a climate of cyber crime and terrorism, biometrics professionals are opting for physical access control to safeguard rooms or buildings. This presents IT security threats to sensitive data within organisations and potential mobile IT security weaknesses.

Physical access controls to offices or floors via fingerprint, iris and palm vein biometric identification controls offer a layer of protection to sensitive data inside the organisation. However laptops, portable hard drives or other mobile computing devices are left open to security threats.

The majority of research respondents (65%) including local and central government, defence and financial services organisations cite a greater level of security as the key advantage to implementing a biometric security system. A secondary rationale is to eliminate lost or forgotten passwords (18%).

"Following the proliferation of mobile IT devices over the last decade and high profile incidents of data loss and theft, a number of organisations are still to address the security of actual IT devices and data protection," states Ian Collard, Identity Management and Biometrics Manager at Siemens IT Solutions and Services. "Frontline building security gives good safeguards to walk in threats but should be complemented with IT infrastructure security measures to prevent access to sensitive data and files."

The research also highlights that companies and government departments yet to implement biometric security measures cite perceived cost (26%) and low evidence of reliability (24%) as prohibitive take up factors. However a quarter of respondents (24%) were currently putting together business cases that will lead to set up in the near future.

"Biometrics may be perceived as innovative and thus costly but this is not the case, indeed business cases show a rapid payback on initial investment," continues Ian Collard, Identity Management and Biometrics Manager at Siemens IT Solutions and Services. "IT helpdesks often observe that the most common reason for user calls is password resets - a task which has been calculated to cost an organisation upwards of £70 a time, when all the human and process stages have been taken into account. By implementing innovative user identification using biometric fingerprint, palm-vein or even voice recognition, costs can be halved, pressure on the helpdesk reduced and organisational efficiencies gained. Biometrics technology is a crucial tool in today's business armoury."

In comparison to other security measures such as passwords and PINs, the theft or forgery of unique biometric characteristics such as palm vein, iris, voice, fingerprint or face is significantly more difficult. This makes it a robust and secure route to protecting infrastructure, data and property.
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