Take a walk through any office building or home and the likelihood of finding login passwords affixed to computer monitors or sitting on desks is disconcertingly high. Like leaving the key in the file cabinet, writing down passwords provides mischievers with access to vast amounts of sensitive data.

Technologies are changing the dynamics of life. These advancements, no doubt, has eased lots of peculiar problems faced by individuals and streamlined the implementation, monitoring and improving various processes. Tremendous opportunities have opened up for executing financial transactions, doing business or performing simple tasks over the internet. However, there is a dark side to every technological advancement. The issue of Information and physical security has thrown lots of challenges. Though many organizations have started using Biometrics, still a lot is to be extracted out of these biometric marvels to strengthen the security environment.

Issues in IT security

Most IT security systems are vulnerable to password related problems. Passwords are easy to compromise or most people share their passwords or keep easy to guess passwords. Also, passwords do not provide any physical data to track culprits.

Biometrics Fingerprint recognition based solutions enable organizations to dramatically improve IT security, while reducing costs and simplifying the user experience. Fingerprint systems in combination with cryptography technology provide foolproof solutions to most IT security issues including data security, non-repudiation, confidentiality and data integrity.

Why Biometrics only?

Identification is the key word to security. Hand geometry along with fingerprints is well established in the arena of Access Control, Time and Attendance. It is now easily accepted as a sure means of verification or identification and subsequent generation of data for further processing and reporting.

Biometrics eliminate the problems associated with password management by measuring human characteristics such as voiceprint, fingerprint, iris pattern, and facial contours, which are virtually impossible to duplicate and cannot be lost like traditional passwords. Biometrics make it more convenient for end-users to access their computer accounts, while maintaining a secure method of user authentication.

Biometric technologies are available commercially in many different forms, but by far the most common devices are fingerprint readers and hand geometry scanners. Businesses use fingerprint scanners in laptops (many enterprise-targeted laptops have them as a standard feature), as stand-alone USB devices, affixed to keyboards and mice, integrated into a portable storage device, or for physical security. Hand geometry readers are usually only used for physical security. While costs have decreased dramatically, iris and retina scanners still don't justify their expense except in locations that require very high security.

Choosing the right biometric device depends on your needs. Fingerprint readers are usually small and portable, ideal for use on a desk. They are perfect for single-user identification, such as an employee logging in to his or her computer and accessing secure information. They are very affordable. Hand geometry scanners are more expensive and take up more space than fingerprint scanners but can accommodate large numbers of people. Commercial retina and iris scanners are considered highly invasive by users. However, they have the highest accuracy rates of any commercial biometric security product.

Should you use biometric security? It depends. When used correctly, biometric security devices are more secure than traditional methods. The benefit, then, derives from the value of the data you are trying to protect.

Biometric security does have drawbacks. Installation can be complicated and costly and the return on investment is usually difficult to quantify. Additionally, biometric technology is not perfect. Most fingerprint scanners have an error rate of about 1 percent to 3 percent. Some biometric identifiers can become altered over time, causing the system to falsely reject a user. Nearly all of the technologies can be fooled fairly easily by a reproduction of a given feature.

As more and more sensitive personal information is stored digitally, the cost of not sufficiently securing that information increases. There is still technological progress to be made, and as that happens, accuracy and reliability will increase and biometrics as a security solution will become more widely adopted. Even so, whether you have a small retail store with five employees, a doctor's office, or a large corporation, biometrics can provide your organization with a viable security solution.