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Convy on Net-Centric

Convy on Net-Centric Security The future of identity management – on the tips of your fingers By John Convy, Convy Associates, Washington, DC Identity management remains an ongoing challenge for the security industry. Any number of technologies promise quick, easy access for authorized individuals, including card keys, biometric scans, facial recognition, and voice recognition. However, issues with accuracy, false positives, and false negatives continue to frustrate security people. One of the world’s oldest identity management methods, ironically, may still be the best. This uses something each of us carries with us everywhere, and is almost perfectly unique to every individual – our fingerprints. Forensic Science in Literature Sir Arthur Conan Doyle popularized fingerprint use as a forensic tool in a Sherlock Holmes story published in 1890. The first documented application of fingerprint technology came from an Argentine police official around 1892. Soon after that, fingerprints became the backbone of many police operations. Analog images can be printed and shared easily. Scans can be turned into digital codes that serve as unique identifiers that can operate as both a user ID and password. This application of biometrics – the use of physical characteristics for digital authentication – has been one of the key goals for the security industry for many years. Older fingerprint scanner technologies had their limitations. They could not record sufficient information from a finger to be reliable or generate a sufficiently sophisticated numerical code that was fully secure. Dirty sensors or wet fingertips caused readability issues. Slow analytics took too long to validate identity, and some systems could be fooled by something as simple as an analog copy of a fingerprint printed on a clear piece of plastic. According to Gary Jones, Director of Biometric Access and Time Solutions at MorphoTrak LLC, those legacy scanners are just as obsolete as the paper fingerprints in old police ledgers. Today’s fingerprint sensors are fast, accurate, and reliable. “We call this frictionless access,” Jones told me. “The difference is that we now know how to capture fingerprints in 3D. Once you have the whole fingerprint, including the curvature, you can capture more information. 38 And that extra information means incredible accuracy. We can now come very close to the rolled capture from ink-and-paper, even with a partial scan. And we can process that information very rapidly.” Always Available, Rarely Lost Another key element in the evolution of fingerprint scanning has been the development of sensors that automatically account for distorted scans, wet fingers, or dirty surfaces. These newer technologies operate under challenging conditions that confused older systems, and occasionally rendered them inoperable. Speed is another major improvement, according to MorphoTrak’s Gary Jones. “Wave your hand – left or right – it does not matter. We now see what we need to see as your fingers move through the scanning area. It’s like placing your finger on an older sensor 10, 12, or 15 times – except you only have to wave once, and you don’t have to place your finger down on a surface.” The result is an advanced identity management solution that can move large numbers of people through

doorways, gateways, turnstiles, and other access points with impressively little delay. It works when hands are wet, dirty, or even damaged. This method delivers enhanced security without cards, key fobs, smartphone two-factor authentication apps, or other devices that need to be managed and can easily be lost. It takes a catastrophic event for someone to misplace a finger. Multiple Security Layers Modern fingerprint sensors can provide two-factor authentication out of the same device scanning for fingerprints. The unit can recognize unique finger vein patterns at the same time. In the infinitesimally unlikely event that two individuals have the same fingerprint, or that the sensor has somehow been fooled with a spoofed print, the vein pattern provides an additional layer of security that is tough to fake. Adding a PIN requirement enables three-factor authentication – all from a single sensor and keypad. “MorphoTrak’s FingerVP product won a Best-In-Show at ISC West for this innovation,” Jones pointed out. The final piece of the puzzle comes from faster, smarter processing, both on the sensor and in the back end systems that handle the significantly greater amounts of data that each scan can capture. It has never been easier to process the volume of data The final piece of the puzzle comes from faster, smarter processing, both on the sensor and in the back end systems that handle the significantly greater amounts of data that each scan can capture. necessary for proper identity management using something as simple and unique as a fingerprint. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) testing has confirmed the superior performance of MorphoTrak’s approach. “People, especially younger individuals, quite literally expect the world at their fingertips through their smartphones,” Jones added. “And they’re already used to securing their phones with their fingerprints. We can now deliver that same ease of use at the levels of security demanded by the toughest of governmental and business standards.” Standards Compliance MorphoTrak’s technology operates equally well as a mobile solution as it does at fixed locations, according to Jones. It complies with essential government standards to ensure high levels of effectiveness and performance. These include FIPS 201 39 Personal Identity Verification (PIV) approval for Federal contractors and employees, Transportation Worker Identity Credential (TWIC) certification for Homeland Security contractors, and FBI Next Generation Identification (NGI) Image Quality Specification (IQS) compliance. This commitment to standards also ensures that MorphoTrak’s fingerprint solutions integrate smoothly with other biometric systems. The company recognizes that no single technology provides perfect identity management. It is essential for organizations to be able to operate multiple layers of authentication as transparently as possible. Sometimes, what is old becomes new again. John Convy and Convy Associates provide strategic alliance, A&E consultant, technology ecosystem, and lead generation programs to monetize relationships and accelerate demand for leading security industry manufacturers. John is the Founder and Managing Director of the Open Standards Security Alliance and the IP Security Academy, and a speaker at many global industry events. Email:

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