By David Orme, Senior Vice President, IDEX Biometrics ASA
How often has your workplace sanitised its fingerprint scanner, office door pin pad or access gates before now? I’d imagine the answer is: not very often. But as we all reassess everything that we touch amid the coronavirus pandemic, many organisations around the world are finding themselves having to disinfect pin pads and secure fingerprint readers on office doors or secure facilities. This uncertain time has made it painfully clear that the access devices we all touch are no longer adequate.
Yet at the same time, businesses in the UK are spending more than two months resetting staff passwords and a further chunk of time replacing employee pass cards that have been lost, stolen or misplaced. Of course, data and information protection is still important for all businesses today, thanks to the heavy fines given for GDPR breaches. On top of that, the rise of the ‘bring-your-own-device’ trend —which more than 46% of business have already adopted — has increased security risks and made corporate passwords not fit for purpose.
So, a more secure solution to workplace access is needed. Gartner predicts that by 2022, 40 percent of businesses plan to adopt biometric technology for information security. But it’s important that it must be a technology that provides security, hygiene and convenience for both businesses and end users.
Making role-based access control unique
The answer is individual role-based access control. Fingerprint access has often been used to bolster security for high-security areas in this way. This is important to help businesses embrace the ‘zero trust model’ in the workplace and ensure that sensitive corporate information and office spaces remain protected. But with health concerns front of mind, it’s now important that businesses do this without having to rely on communal fingerprint sensors or hand scanning devices.
So, instead of resorting to a reader-based sensor, fingerprint biometric authentication is best introduced on individual employee ID cards. This means each user can confirm their identity, role and level of access, by scanning their fingerprint on their own personal card – removing the need for shared devices.
Of course, it’s also crucial to ensure personal data security. During card registration, or the work onboarding process, the employee’s fingerprint image can be scanned by the biometric card sensor and then converted into a biometric template. The template is then encrypted and stored in the secure element in the card’s chip. This means the personal data never leaves the ID card – and isn’t stored on a central database. So, if the smart card is stolen, the templates cannot be hacked or reveal the user’s biometric fingerprint.
The biometric pass card will also remove the ability for employees to share passwords and ID cards, while boosting authentication accuracy and reducing friction.
Swiping in to the smart workplace
A biometric access card doesn’t just increase security and prevent users having to scan their fingerprint on grubby reader devices. When combined with a smart workplace, it can also increase the level of personalisation an employee can experience throughout the office and reduce the need for mundane processes.
A smart workplace utilises IoT technology — such as sensors, connected devices and networked platforms — to streamline, and even enhance the office experience. With a biometric fingerprint ID card, a smart office can recognise the employee as they move around, meaning they can work more efficiently, minimising workplace disruptions and improving their working day.
For instance, do you like your meeting room warmer, brighter, or quieter than everyone else? Swiping into the room with your personal, fingerprint-authorised access card can automate your preferences, saving you time and thinking space. You can focus on the task at hand, and your businesses can focus on customers.
Keeping workplaces safe, secure and protected
Smart offices powered by biometric access control cards will personalise the office day, save enterprises countless hours resetting employee passwords and reduce the risk of lost or stolen access cards — all while maintaining personal hygiene when we most need it.
Not only will fingerprint biometric ID cards only let the right person into the building, or onto the network, but it will also ensure there is less spread of shared contact on fingerprint or hand sensors in the future.
In this uncertain time, we are all looking to our workplaces to guide us and keep us safe at work. By saying goodbye to public fingerprint scanners and combining biometrics with individual work security passes, workplaces of the future will see improved levels of hygiene, convenience and security.