John Kendall of Unisys gives us a view on how biometric technologies are gearing up to be an integral part of the enterprise security strategy.
Our approach to the Indian market is to view it as a domestic market and to leverage the in-place capabilities we have built to service that market
How do biometric technologies fit into the equation of enterprise security?
Since a biometric is unique to an individual, it provides the strongest form of authentication and is an important component of MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive systems and data.
Initially, even Physical Access Control Solutions (PACS) largely used fingerprint matching – which could be vulnerable to spoofing and also carries a “criminal” connotation and undermines user acceptance. But biometrics is now gaining greater usage in PACS with improvements in ease of use, speed, accuracy, interoperability and cost effectiveness of biometric solutions such as facial recognition, iris recognition, voice identification and vascular recognition.
Organisations today are moving from biometric “point solutions” (i.e., standalone biometric solutions to perform a single function) to integrated enterprise biometric solutions that can support multiple applications. And the emergence of biometric frameworks (such as the Unisys Library of Electronic Identification Artifacts – LEIDA) makes the implementation of such enterprise biometric solutions faster, cheaper and easier.
The next big growth area for biometrics, I feel, is in the area of Logical Access Control Solutions (LACS) – particularly with mobile devices. Some laptops come with fingerprint scanners built in. But more importantly, today’s smart phones are able to capture voice, face and even hand geometry biometrics without resorting to add-on scanners or other peripherals.
What are some of the latest developments in the field of biometrics and security?
Iris recognition is definitely the “most improved” biometric – with very large mainstream implementation for national identification schemes in India and Mexico. This has led to advances in scanner size (much smaller), cost (orders of magnitude less expensive), and ease of use (iris scanning at 2+ metres distance and while the subject is moving).
Recent work in the area of facial recognition is also overcoming sensitivity to image quality (e.g., lighting, angle, resolution, obstructions). This is paving the way for the convergence of surveillance and real-time identification.
Lastly, we are seeing the integration of biometrics into everyday applications, rather than stand alone systems operated by forensic analysts and biometric specialists.
What is the uptake of such solutions in India?
AADHAAR/UID is a transformational program for India that has the potential to positively impact the entire population in ways that are only now becoming evident. Biometrics alone won’t achieve the dream of universal social, financial and political inclusion – but it is a critical and necessary foundation.
When is the best time to look at advanced security solutions in an organization’s IT maturity cycle?
The best time is now. Virtually all organisations have incorporated some type of security solution to protect their information, physical and personnel resources. But quite often this was implemented as point solutions in response to a specific threat. This can result in ineffective investments that fail to address the actual security needs.
Unisys recommends that organisations start by assessing their security vulnerabilities, threats and risks and then developing an actionable plan that includes enhancements in the areas of procedures, education, physical security and advanced security technology. This type of approach will help an organisation balance security investment against security needs, ensure that critical security risks are addressed, and achieve a solution that supports (rather than hinders) business operations. Unisys has defined a Security Roadmap process that does just this and used the Security Roadmap to help clients as diverse as major healthcare providers, maritime ports and nuclear facilities.
Do you see a difference in the perception of threats from Indian enterprises when compared with their global counterparts?
India faces a fairly unique set of problems. As an emerging global economic power, India is attracting lots of investment – including from organised crime and politically motivated terrorist organisations. These threats are understood and recognised by both government and business organisations in India, but the challenge is in implementing appropriate measures to detect, deter and defend against such threats without strangling growth. In our experience, Indian organisations are turning to advanced security technology for greater efficiencies and improved return on investment.
What is your organization’s view of India - as a market and as a development center?
No global company can afford to ignore the Indian market – and Unisys is no exception. We are actively engaged with Indian organisations (both private and public) who are leading the economic growth. This includes areas such as transportation, government and trade (e.g. Delhi International Airport, Air India).
Over the past two years, Unisys has greatly expanded our investment in India as a global development centre. Our employee base in India now exceeds 4,000 and serves as the global development centre for our biometric, security and other leading solutions.
What is your strategy to capitalize on the Indian market?
We don’t view the Indian market as a foreign market that needs to be penetrated. Unisys has maintained an important presence in India for decades and we have made significant investment in developing our world class resources to support Unisys solutions and clients all over the world. Our approach to the Indian market is to view it as a domestic market and to leverage the in-place capabilities we have built to service that market