SECURITY BY DEBORAH L. O’MARA
According to Kim Humborstad, chief
executive officer of Zwipe, based in Oslo,
Norway, users of card-based proximity
head-end readers have some concerns
about system compromise. They know
that, for $200 or less, their proximity system can be violated. After all, proximity
systems use passive authentication, and
the card sends the same 32 bits of data
each time, so it is easy to mimic.
devices can be bought online that will
pull the card number and replay it at
critical access points,” Humborstad said.
Customers with an entire installed
infrastructure of proximity readers may
not be happy to hear they need to tear out
all of these readers to better secure their
facilities. Some might be advised to add
a personal identification number (PIN),
but that means piggybacking keypads on
the readers or replacing devices. In addition, PINs don’t provide the high level of
security required, also running the risk
Biometrics—such as fingerprint,
facial recognition and iris technology—
authenticate the person at the door.
Fingerprint technologies are the most
affordable and reliable. In a perfect
world, facilities would have a biometrics
reader at every door that needs higher
security. But, while biometric technology
continues to gain momentum and was
worth about $200 million in 2014, price
remains a barrier, according to Blake
Kozak, senior analyst for IHS Technology, Englewood, Colo.
Lifting the print
Outfitting an entire facility with biometrics is costly and not in most budgets.
However, what if the biometric was
put directly on the card? The proximity
card credential with on-card fingerprint
reading would provide all of the benefits of the proximity card and eliminate
its two most glaring deficiencies—not
knowing who is holding it and the
potential for compromise.
“A biometric card quickly reads the
user’s fingerprint in less than a second,”
Humborstad said. “Eliminating the problems of solely deploying proximity cards,
the wirelessly powered biometric card lets
users authenticate themselves directly
on the card through a fingerprint or
thumbprint. Only then will the card system activate the lock. This is much more
secure than using a standard proximity
card, which verifies only something the
user carries and can easily be duplicated.”
Scott Lindley, president of Farpointe
Data, Sunnyvale, Calif., said one of the
easiest solutions to the access control
conundrum is two-factor validation.
Users need to have something—the
authorized card or tag—and they need
to know something, such as a PIN.
Lindley said biometrics is preferred
because it verifies that you are who you
say you are.
“That’s why card-based biometrics
ECs as problem-solvers
is so enticing,” he said. “It lets users
authenticate themselves directly on the
biometric card through something they
are, a fingerprint, without having to add
a biometric reader to existing smart
card or proximity readers. To use it, ISO
14443-compliant smart card reader users
do not need to replace equipment with
new products. The readers they now
use will be able to provide the benefits
of biometric authorization by simply
incorporating the card into their systems
in the same way they incorporate smart
cards through current offerings.”
In addition, the biometric card is more
secure than other solutions on the mar-
ket. Fingerprint data is captured by the
on-card fingerprint scanner and stored
only inside the card. No exchange of data
is conducted with external systems, pro-
viding secure template management. It
also eliminates concerns about privacy.
The card is unique to the user, and only
the authorized cardholder can activate
card communication with the reader.
When a positive match occurs, the bio-
metric card activates communication
with the lock or reader in the same way as
other ISO 14443 contactless smart cards.
No longer do end-users need to worry
about quickly replacing proximity card
readers to secure their facilities.
“With a biometric proximity card [or
biometric smart card], security managers
and their integrators can use biometrics
on high-security openings, such as a hospital pharmacy, IT server room or special
research lab, without having to switch
out their proximity readers for biometric
readers,” Humborstad said.
Biometric cards can be issued to key
staff, providing the security benefits of
two-factor biometric authentication
without changes to existing access control system software or proximity readers.
Administrators simply add the biometric
card to their system in the same way they
incorporate their current proximity cards,
extending the life and return on investment of their installed systems.
Higher Security Access Control
On-card biometrics extend the life of proximity solutions
DO YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER that requires additional access control at specific
locations within their facility but no budget for a total rip and replace? Maybe they
are concerned with hacking or data compromise. For electrical contractors (ECs)
who know about on-card biometrics, this is an opportunity, not a problem. There
are readers on the market that can be used for proximity access control and read
biometrics embedded in the cards, offering dual authentication of users.
O’MA RA is the managing director of DLO Communications and a veteran of the systems
integration industry. She can be reached at email@example.com and
773.414.3573. P H O