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Biometric Access Control Systems

 

No two people on this earth share the exact same fingerprint. So, what better way to manage access permissions than with what is, quite possibly, the most unique feature that every human possesses. Focusing on utilizing biometric fingerprints for access control, allows a business to create a safe and secure workplace with regulated access to specific areas of a facility.

What is Biometric Access Control?

 

Every person is unique, and every individual has the ability to be identified by his or her behavioral or intrinsic traits. Biometric technology is able to recognize someone based on their own unique features: facial, fingerprint, iris pattern, etc., and then implement a safe and convenient method for certification purposes.

Biometrics is the statistical analysis and measurement of a person’s behavioral and physical characteristics. Biometrics is a science that is based on specific mathematics. By using measuring procedures in order to make sense of someone’s identity, biometrics a trustworthy mechanism for access control systems.

 

How is Biometrics Access Control used in a security system? 

Access control systems with biometric integrations, such as fingerprint access control systems, offer a superior level of security than different access control systems such as passwords or cards. This is because biometric readers identify individuals, not passwords or cards. Previously, maximum-security institutions were the only places able to install these systems, however, now the cost of biometric access control systems has become equivalent to classic keycard-based access control systems. 

Biometric access control systems use biometric scanners in order to provide authentication. Essentially, biometric access control is the use of biological data to deny or grant access to the entrance of or area of a facility. What physical traits and biological data are we talking about exactly? The most commonly used biometric access control systems are fingerprint readers, retina, and iris scanners. These forms of access control are rather sophisticated in comparison to other methods and give an extremely high level of security. Cards and other devices give big advantages compared to keys, however, they can be lost or stolen by people. Biometric access control systems, however, rely on the physical, unique characteristics of each unique user. 

The history log is the most commonly used for biometric access control systems like a fingerprint access control system. Possessing the ability to identify who has entered a controlled area and when is a very well-received feature by consumers. Unlike some security systems that rely on keys, a biometric access control system is recording their date and time of access. Therefore, they are able to be held accountable for their actions because a log was kept. When someone wishes to enter a door that is controlled, the access control system searches a database and establishes whether the person is able to access the door or not. If they are granted access, the system records that date and time of entry with the person’s identity for the future.

Biometric access control systems have refashioned the way businesses limit entry to secure different areas in a building. Relying on cards, passwords, keys, or similar devices can be a problem for companies as they can be copied easily, hacked or stolen a long time before someone is able to notice that something is wrong. Access control systems like fingerprint access control provide many benefits since they use many methods: fingerprint, passwords, smart cards, etc. These access control systems are sure to improve the facility’s security.

 

Why Are Biometrics Used for Security?

Biometrics is the analysis of biological information using technology. This information typically relates specifically to physical traits that an individual might have.

Classic access systems have a serious vulnerability: data and objects can be stolen or shared which would allow someone to access sensitive information or gain access to the facility if they were to get a hold of them. This may or may not be an issue depending on how much security is required in each individual’s facility. For example, several different coffee shops use a keypad on their bathroom doors with a passcode printed on a receipt in order for visitors will only have access to the bathroom if they are paying customers.

Most will use a short four-digit code. Putting aside whether or not this is good or bad customer service, in this case, protecting a lock on a public bathroom doesn’t really require an immense amount of protection, so a keypad is perfect. However, a system of that sort is completely wrong for anything requiring a more serious level of security. The issue that arises with passcodes is that, since they are simply information, they can be easily shared and distributed to any number of people, even if they aren’t authorized. Physical access items such as keys, fobs, and ID cards pose a risk as well: they can be easily stolen or lost, allowing anyone with access to them to have access to the facility, which is the last thing any business owner wants. 

However, with biometrics, those problems are eliminated. Since every individual has a unique biometric code that you can’t lose, it’s nearly impossible for anyone other than the individual to access it. 

More Accountability

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Having knowledge of what your employees are doing while they are on the clock is always a good idea. Biometrics help to improve accountability, especially if you have employees working nights and weekends. With better, more accurate information about every entrance and exit, there is more proof backed by data that is easier to configure, analyze, and report.

Keeping an eye on entrances and exits is one thing, however, having even more information is very useful, especially when you want to be sure that your employees, staff, and everyone in the facility is made as safe as possible.

Faster and Easier Identification and Authentication

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Using codes and passwords is common but too universal. Essentially, anyone with an access card or code (depending on the type of access control permissions that has been put into place). However, biometric security refers to the biological passcodes that cannot be forged which means authentic identification of the individual.

Facial and iris recognition are becoming more popular and are becoming integrated into the security process. Scanning is simple and quick.

High Efficiency

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Companies demand efficient security systems: the best of the best. When biometric security is implemented, it can allow your business to run much more smoothly. Biometric systems enhance security and increase efficiency in order to manage key functions like attendance tracking for payroll. 

It is also helpful for employees since they don’t need to worry about carrying a card, key fob, etc.  

Convenience

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One advantage of a biometric system is convenience. Biometric security gives a layer of security in bypassing the necessity for traditional passwords that allow employees the ease of access to areas and info that they need in order to finish their jobs. The need to reset passwords is eliminated.  

After the biometric test is activated, fingerprints, iris, and facial recognition are finished, and employees are all set. It is even convenient to log data and accordingly audit it. 

The Best level of Dual-Authentication

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Dual authentication in access control security systems is a requirement where a credential holder represents 2x forms of authentication.  It can be an RFID card, Mobile Credential (through a smartphone), Key Fob or pin-code as the “1st” credential offered then combined with a retina eye scan, facial recognition, or fingerprint validating that the same individual who has access to this specific entry is one and the same.   

Dual-Authentication should be used in high-security applications where limiting access to only specific personnel is critical to the business operations.  

 

More Capacity to Accommodate Growth

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While companies evolve, it’s essential for security to grow with them. What business doesn’t want to grow? Even if you are a small business owner without a lot of resources, biometric technology can be incredibly beneficial for growth. One large advantage of biometric authentication is the ability to scale. These systems are very flexible and can accept additional employee’s data easily. Scalability becomes a lot easier to manage for all stakeholders involved. 

Profitability and Security

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After the biometric system is integrated, there becomes no need to invest in any additional capital. This cuts upfront and ongoing investment costs significantly. Systems like these are also crucial in preventing loss due to illegal entries and fraud. That alone saves money while driving profitability. 

User Friendly

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Biometrics has rapidly become an integral part of security infrastructure and multi-factor authentication. It provides quick and simple verification, audit logs, as well as analysis. These systems are proving themselves as critical as the industry continues to scale and gets more complex. Even bigger things should be expected in the years to come.

The Benefits of Biometrics for Access Control

There are several benefits of biometric access control systems.

Security, Convenience & Reduced Costs

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Inherent to User: Since biometrics uses someone’s individual biology to verify their identity, it’s very difficult to be taken or used by anyone other than the user that was intended.

Difficult to Duplicate

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Classic access control items like keycards can so easily be lost or duplicated. However, biometrics are much harder to crack since biometric systems use liveness tests to be sure that the data is coming from a real human and not a fake

Easy Permission Management

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Admins can grant or revoke access directly from their console dashboard which allows them to ensure that only the people granted access are given access. 

Convenience

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Biometric access control systems are incredibly convenient because they allow authorized users to access the facility with nothing but themselves. They can’t be forgotten or lost.

Easy Access

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An individual’s fingerprint biometric ID is always at hand (no pun intended), so no longer are the days of searching for that card or key fob in your wallet or purse; your hand is now your ID.

Efficiency

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Most all biometrics can identify users in less than a second which eliminates the delays caused by identity checks, PINS, or passwords.

Reduced Costs

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Biometric access control systems save companies money by eliminating the need to security staff to man access points. Staffing a facility with several security workers gets extremely expensive. 

Zero Replacement Costs

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Access control systems that use physical items like fobs and keycards often include hidden costs such as a replacement cost which could occur often, especially if the facility is large.

Protects Expensive Equipment

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A potential security breach far outweighs the previous costs by far. In certain facilities such as manufacturing, the use of heavy machinery by people who are unauthorized could void the warranty of a machine, which would create huge repair costs and possibly detrimental results. 

Types of biometrics used for unlocking access

There are different types of biometrics for unlocking access to your facility.

Fingerprint

Fingerprint access control is a great option for companies to put into place since they are difficult to hack. No password or any data is required to be inputted into the system. Rather, fingerprint access control fully utilizes biometric technology. Biometric access control fingerprint readers scan a person and match his or her data with what is previously stored in the database. If the info matches, the individual then can access the secured area or resources.

When fingerprints were first used for a criminal investigation in the early 1900s, they were compared slowly by hand. You’d take a fingerprint from a crime scene and another from the suspect and simply compare them under a magnifying glass. Now, when a computer checks out your fingerprints, there isn’t a little person inside of a magnifying glass sitting inside comparing your fingerprints with all of the hundreds of thousands stored in the database. So, how can a computer compare fingerprints? Each print is analyzed for specific features called minutiae, where the lines in your fingerprint split in two.

The computer measures the distances and angles between them and uses an algorithm to turn the information into a numeric code. Comparing fingerprints is then just a matter of comparing their unique codes. If the codes match, the prints match, and the person gains access. 

Iris scan

Retinal scanning is one of the most well-known biometric technologies, developed in the ‘80s, yet it is also one of the least deployed. Retinal scans map out the most unique patterns of a person’s retina. The blood vessels in the retina absorb light more easily than the surrounding tissues and are easily identified with applicable lighting.

A retinal scan is performed by casting an unperceived beam of infrared, low-energy infrared light into someone’s eye as they look into the scanner’s eyepiece. The light beam then traces a standardized path on the retina. After the scanner device captures a retinal image, the software compiles unique features of the network of retinal blood vessels into a template.

Retinal scan algorithms require a high-quality image and won’t allow a user to enroll or verify until the system is able to capture an image of excellent quality. The retina template generated is usually one of the smallest of any biometric technology. 

Facial recognition

Facial recognition software compares the face presented at the point of access to a database of an authorized person to determine whether there is a match. If there is a match, access will be granted, and if there is no match, access is denied, and a security alert could be triggered. Face recognition compares faces and determines whether there is a match between the presented face and the database of authorized people.

In the majority of cases, the software does not store actual facial images in that database. Instead, it converts facial images into a faceprint at the time of enrollment into the database. It’s important to note that the faceprints can’t be reverse engineered into the original image. Even if the faceprints are stolen or hacked into, they can’t be tied to a specific individual without using the initial software that created those faceprints. 

 

What Types of Industries Use Biometric Access Control?

Biometric identification is widely used in many industries. Some of them are listed below:

Cannabis

Biometric access control is gaining popularity in the cannabis industry. Most of the cannabis starters, cannabis tech companies have developed a biometric marijuana vending machine. These machines verify the age and legal status of a consumer. On the operational side, the safe manufacturers have created biometric locking mechanisms on their safes. These safes use biometric authentication to protect their assets and inventories from unauthorized persons.

Biometric identification technology is the most practical and proactive approach for internal controls in grow areas where it allows employees and staff to move around the facility while providing restricted partitioned access to high-security areas of the facility like labs, secured storage housing cash. Biometrics access control systems offer tracking options from the grow farms to the dispensaries. Fingerprint biometric authentication can also provide mobile tracking options and audits for the cannabis product being shipped and transport vehicles.

Starters, retail operations like dispensaries stores a large amount of cash on hand and huge inventories of flowers. Therefore, cannabis owners must implement biometric access control systems for their facilities as a proactive measure against criminal activities and stay ahead of the compliance standards.

Financial & Banking

With the increase of digitization in banking services and adopting strict policies for employee identification protocols to prevent criminal activities, biometric identification technology has become an integral part of the financial security platform. Biometric technology provides a strong authentication platform for securing ATMs, online transactions, and much more. Banking sectors have implemented biometric access control to authenticate employees and bank customers through secured authenticated access. The system is a much easier, faster, and reliable way of authorization in banks. There is no doubt that biometrics such as fingerprint, iris scan, voice recognition, facial recognition offer enhanced security than traditional PIN and password authentication. Biometrics in banking provides protection against insider fraud, secure online banking or mobile banking, faster customer care service through biometric voice recognition systems, ATMs with biometrics advantage, and much more.

Logistics

Biometric access control is solely a niche solution for protecting areas such as warehouses and storage rooms. Biometrics is the most convenient and secure way of entering the facility without hassle. Border control use biometric integrated identity cards and e-passports, international travel and trade can be protected from criminal acts,

Airports & Transportation

The airport and transportation industries are highly benefitted from biometric technology. Facial matching and facial identification techniques play a critical role in enhancing the security of the travel document checker position at the checkpoint by replacing the current manual ID verification procedures. Fingerprint scanners can be added at the sensitive areas such as Jetway doors, hatches to the roof, rooms with baggage belts leading out to aircraft are now protected with a three-factor authorization system – an ID badge, a pin code, and who you are. This prevents unauthorized person entry to the airport and other transportation areas.

Key Elements of a Biometric Access Control Solution

Biometric Reader

Biometric readers are devices that identify the person by comparing certain attributes of their physiological being or behavioral traits against a sample database.

Door Controller

Door controllers are a centralized part of the access control system that connects all the software, readers, and locks. In simple words, it’s a complex component that combines everything together.

Electronic / Wireless Locks

Electronic or wireless locks is a credential or locking device which operates by means of electric current or wires or battery. They are connected to the access control systems for key controls to manage the access levels for each user. Every time access is attempted, the records get stored in the system. They can also be remotely monitored and controlled.

Control Software

Control software manages the access of each user. It is the process of physical storage in a definitive software library that consists of all software to ensure the only an authorized version of the software is in use. This enables authenticated access to the user entering the property.

Alternative access control solutions

There are many alternatives to access control solutions. Some of them are:

Key-based access control

Key-based access control is an authentication process to confirm the user’s identity by using asymmetric cryptography algorithms, with public and private keys. The concept is to assign asymmetric keys to individual users. Users can store their public keys in each system while their private keys would be kept secured in the computers. During establishing a connection, the server would use the public key to authorize the user by encrypting some number and asking the user to decrypt it, by using his corresponding private key.

 

Touchless access control solutions

Touchless access control systems provide hands-free solutions to protect the organization from the spread of germs and easy entry to the facility. During pandemic situations, it’s highly essential to stay protected without touching objects. This solution has gained even more popularity due to the pandemic and process of being safe with smart contactless technology. The system enables easy entry either by waving hand in front of the reader, unlock by mobile app or unlock by Bluetooth, and utilizing facial recognition techniques.

 

Password and Knowledge-based access control

Password-based access control is one of the popular access control methods. It is the easiest way to gain access to the facility by just entering the pin or password in the reader. But the disadvantage of the system is password may eventually be broken and revealed and lead to serious issues in the organization. Therefore, it’s essential to protect your facility with enhanced security methods like touchless access control or key-based access control, or card access control.

Knowledge-based access control is a system that allows entry based on a secret question that the user might have set previously. If the user is able to answer the question correctly, he gains access to the facility or revoked access from entering the facility.  

Biometric System Installation Considerations

It’s important to consider the below factors before installing a biometric access control system to your facility.

  • Conduct an audit of your current infrastructure.

Conduct an onsite audit to check on the existing infrastructure and see how well it matches up against your current security policies.

Which biometric modality is best for your business?

The most common biometric modalities are fingerprint, facial recognition, iris, palm vein, and finger vein.

  • Multimodal Biometric Vs Unimodal Biometric Systems

It’s important to keep in mind that never rely on one means of security, it is smarter to have multiple layers of security. Make sure the systems are compatible with the existing security systems before installation.

  • Biometric Hardware

There is various biometric hardware available in the market, choosing the right product that meets your business needs is important.

  • Consider the Return of Investment (ROI)

If you have decided on the implementation of a biometric system, it is important that you develop an understanding of the Rate of Return on Investment (ROI). For example, if you have to deploy five fingerprint scanners at five different access points for employee time and attendance tracking at different areas of the facility, first consider deploying only one fingerprint scanner at one main point for a short time. Using this approach, you can quantify your return of investment if you want to do a system-wide deployment. 

In Conclusion, Biometrics has become popular for many reasons. Classically, there is a convenience tradeoff when switching to more secure technology, however, biometric technology is one of the few examples in security where an upgrade increases convenience.

Because of this, biometrics are very quickly becoming the best choice for access control. When it comes to access control systems, you can’t go wrong with biometrics, and you can’t go wrong with fingerprint access control.

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