Biometrics Role in Physical Access Control

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1 Biometrics Role in Physical Access Control What devices are currently available on the commercial market and what s their future? What are the key issues to be considered when using a biometric device? Jon Mooney, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, General Manager, Schlage Biometrics ABI Research s World Market Forecast from 2007 to 2013 relates that there will be 19.2 million shipments of all types of biometrics by North American Government Biometrics Markets reports that biometrics sales are estimated to reach $9.5 billion by For those in the security market, this shouldn t be that big of a surprise. After all, if the goal of an access control system is to control where people, not credentials, can and cannot go, then only a biometric device truly provides this capability to the end user. That s why more and more security dealers and integrators are proposing biometrics as part of an overall plan. And, they can draw upon a wide choice of technologies. Proven Biometric Technologies Currently Available There are a wide variety of human characteristics used by biometric devices to confirm a person s identity. The biometric industry is constantly finding new attributes and ways to measure their uniqueness. Before getting specific, though, an important distinction must be made between identification, a one-to-many match, and verification a one-to-one match. It s vital that dealers and integrators understand the difference. A system designed to identify a person compares a biometric presented by a person against all biometric samples stored in the database. The one-to-many system identifies the individual if the presented biometric matches one of the many samples on file. This type of system is used by the police to identify criminals and by governments to identify qualified recipients for benefit programs and registration systems for voting, licensing drivers, etc. This is the type of system we typically see on TV crime shows. The verification process, however, involves a one-to-one search. A live biometric presented by the user is compared to a stored sample, previously given by that individual during enrollment, and the match is confirmed. However, the actual hand geometry, vein pattern or fingerprint is not stored in a database or on an ID card. 1

2 Instead, a mathematical equation, or algorithm, creates a unique number that represents the points measured on the finger, veins or hand. The number or template that results from this equation is all that is stored. When the user presents an ID card or enters an assigned PIN, only that template is transmitted. When the employee presents his/her hand or finger, the reader runs the authentication process to determine if the template that is stored matches the biometric being presented. If there is a match, the person is verified. According to Walter Hamilton, Chairman of the International Biometric Association and senior consultant with Identification Technology Partners, One-to-one verification technologies, such as hand geometry and vein recognition, have great potential for physical and logical access control, whereas one-to-many technologies, such as face recognition, are well-suited for identification applications, such as checking against a watch list. Here are the biometric devices that are commercially available today. Hand Geometry. The size and shape of the hand and fingers is used by a hand reader to verify a person s identity. Hand geometry evaluates a 3-D image of the four fingers and part of the hand. It was the technology used for the very first commercially available biometric device, which came to market in Hand geometry readers continue to be the dominant biometric technology for access control and time and attendance applications. They are predominantly used in high throughput applications, such as at the gates to a factory, access to an airport tarmac or admittance to a college recreation center. Fingerprint. People are sometimes confused as there are two types of fingerprint readers. Law enforcement agencies have used one-to-many fingerprint systems for decades to identify individuals. Businesses continue to do so today when undergoing background checks. However, relatively inexpensive one-to-one fingerprint access control readers are different than these devices. They then create a template of the fingerprint in a process similar to hand geometry readers for local comparison. Due to throughput concerns, fingerprint access control may be best applied in smaller user populations. Because of cost and size, they are a perfect choice for single person verification applications, such as in logical access control, where they are used to log onto PCs or computer networks. They re a good choice for a small lab or admittance into the telecommunications room. 2

3 Vein Recognition. Like one s hand geometry or fingerprint, the layouts of a people s veins are unique. To use a vein recognition system, the user simply places the finger, wrist, palm or the back of the hand on or near the scanner. A camera takes a digital picture using near-infrared light. The hemoglobin in one s blood absorbs the light, so veins appear black in the picture. As with all the other one-to-one biometric types, the software creates a reference template based on the shape and location of the vein structure. Small-scale access control for equipment such as lockers can easily embed finger vein scanners. Eye. The scanner stores traits of a person's iris into a template. Proponents believe this one-to-one technique is more specific than fingerprinting. The system functions with contact lenses and eyeglasses, but not with sunglasses. The user tilts the unit so that their eye appears in the center of the image capture area. This image passes to a processing unit via network wiring to be compared with the iris code on files. Several doors can be connected to the processing unit. While the technology is quite accurate, the high cost per door limits its widespread adoption for general commercial applications. Some see a possibility of using eye scanning in mass public one-to-many systems. Others don t. Though extremely accurate, acquisition is difficult to perform at a distance and extremely complicated when the subject is uncooperative. Facial Systems. This is the most-discussed one-to-many technology discussed in the security industry. The shape of the face, determined by distances between the eyes, eyes and nose and other facial characteristics are put into a template. When viewed via a CCTV camera, the image is matched against the template to verify a person. This is a technology many are counting on in the fight against terrorism as the system could scan large crowds and/or people waiting in line, picking out individuals that should be further scrutinized. Because there is an enormous existing database for facial drivers licenses, passports and the like recognition systems also can be used on these images to locate duplicate enrollments and eliminate identity fraud. Other Technologies. The other most-discussed technologies include signature validation and voice authentication. However, these technologies will tend to be used only in very vertical applications, such as check cashing and telecommunications-based industries. For instance, voice verification is proving invaluable to enhanced call center applications, banking and payment adoption. 3

4 Multimodal technologies are seeing rapid development, harnessing the power of two or more biometrics, improving accuracy and providing increased flexibilities. Issues to Consider With all these choices, which then is the best biometric to choose? Reviewing how they work, the answer is simple. First of all, is the application one-to-one or one-tomany? What is the security level? There is a big difference whether someone breeches a nuclear warhead storage area versus a student union. How many people need to use it? If there are hundreds of people using the biometric daily and they re standing in line to do so, that s unacceptable. Acceptance, effectiveness and throughput are the key differentiators of which technology to use. Acceptance. The most critical factor in the success of a biometric system is user acceptance of the biometric device. There are several factors which impact acceptance. First, the device must cause no discomfort or concern for the user. This may be a subjective issue, but it is important to fully explain any concerns users may have. If people are afraid to use the device, they most likely will not use it properly and that may result in them not being granted access. Second, it must be easy to enroll people. People get frustrated having to go through the process over and over again. From the get-go, they are predisposed against the system Third, the biometric must be easy to use. People like things that are simple and intuitive. How many times have you been frustrated at a card reader that gives no indication of which way to swipe the card? Fourth, the biometric must work correctly. If a biometric is working properly, it does two things. It keeps bad guys out and lets good guys in. And, it does so quickly. Yet, no device is perfect. In the biometric world, the two errors a unit can make are letting a bad guy in and keeping a good guy out. The probability of one of these errors happening is characterized by the False Accept and False Reject error rates. Check them out with a caveat emptor. Manufacturers will put only their best feet forward on issuing their statistics. You are likely to get an apples-to-oranges comparison. Contact other users. They will let you know if the device is working. Effectiveness. It may seem obvious, but how well the biometric works will determine if it stays on the job. In the most basic sense, if a biometric is working properly, it does two things. It keeps bad guys out and lets good guys in. Yet, no device is perfect. Typically much attention is given to how well bad guys are repelled, but it is equally 4

5 important to ensure that the authorized users are consistently recognized and allowed access. Throughput. A logistical issue that should be considered carefully when using a biometric is the throughput. Throughput is the total time that it takes for a person to use the device. It is difficult for manufacturers to specify a throughput since it is application dependent. Most manufacturers specify the verification time for the reader, but that is only part of the equation. When a person uses a biometric reader, they typically enter an ID number on an integral keypad. The reader prompts them to position their hand, finger or eye where the device can scan physical details. The elapsed time from presentation to identity verification is the "verification time." Most biometric readers verify ID in less than two seconds. However, when considering the use of biometrics for access control, one must look beyond the verification time and consider the total time it takes a person to use the reader. This includes the time it takes to enter the ID number, if required, and the time necessary to be in position to be scanned. If ID numbers must be entered, they should be kept as short as possible. If a long ID number must be used, some biometrics can obtain the number by reading a card, which contains the ID number in the card code. The total time required for a person to use the reader will vary between biometric devices depending on their ease of use and verification time. A card-based access system may appear faster. However, as one hand geometry user points out, "The speed difference between a card and the hand reader is about two seconds, but you make up for it (the difference) since your hand is right in front of you, verses fumbling around looking for your card." How to Handle Employee Privacy Concerns In some cases, companies implementing biometrics will initially receive employee resistance, with the issues of privacy and hygiene taking center stage. This will invariably be the case if a union is involved, looking for negotiating points. However, when they dig deeper into the concerns of their employees, companies report the only real problem with the new biometric system is that "it's new." Any concerns are eliminated if employees are educated upon announcement of the new system. After they have operated the biometric reader once or twice and see how easy it is to use, they prefer biometrics to alternative methods. 5

6 When installing any system, it is important that the ultimate users are educated. Nobody likes change. That is particularly true when it comes to biometrics, as there are several urban myths about biometrics that refuse to die, basically because they are brought up over and over again, especially by employee groups resisting change. The reality is that biometrics provide employees with increased security in access control applications and improved record-keeping in time and attendance applications. Emphasize that the verification of the person has been previously established. The matching of the live biometric to the established stored mathematical sample is all that is necessary to verify the individual as an eligible user. No search takes place to match a user s actual biometric to a central database. Palm prints or fingerprints of the Law and Order type are never kept. And, unlike the biometric identification on these TV shows, verification does not require the template be stored in a central database. This data can be stored on a smartcard and kept in the possession of the individual, thereby, keeping control of its use in the hands of the users themselves. Consider Biometrics for Every Job There are biometric systems available today which economically meet the needs of almost any commercial access control application. And, as costs continue to decline, justifying the use of a biometric is becoming a reality and necessity for more and more organizations PHOTOGRAPHS/CAPTIONS Cal State Fullerton: There are eight hand readers used in the Cal State-Fullerton Titan Recreation Center. Three Schlage HandKey readers are placed at the turnstiles for accessing the Center. Another three HandKey readers are used for enrollment into the system. The seventh HandKey reader is placed on the outside of the staff door so that staff can enter the facility during off hours. The eighth hand reader is a HandPunch reader that employees use to clock into and out of work. Integrated System Graphic: Networked systems provide convenient template management. Although a user enrolls at one location, their template is available at other authorized locations. Deletion of a user or changes in their access profile is simply entered at the computer. Some biometric systems store all information in the computer 6

7 where template comparisons are also performed. Others distribute template information to the individual readers at each door or via a smartcard. Either way, the net effect of template management is the same. MSSI Portal: Schlage hand geometry readers housed inside a Modular Security Systems Inc. (MSSI) custom proprietary Modular Access Control (MAC) portal ensure only authorized individuals access base camps in the Middle East. 7

May 2010. For other information please contact:

May 2010. For other information please contact: access control biometrics user guide May 2010 For other information please contact: British Security Industry Association t: 0845 389 3889 f: 0845 389 0761 e: info@bsia.co.uk www.bsia.co.uk Form No. 181.

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