Biometrics and Small Business – Biometric Authentication
The concept of biometrics might sound a little technologically advanced for a small business to think about, but the reality is that the implications are already relevant, especially when talking about biometric authentication. For example, biometrics can be one factor in a Multi-Factor Authentication security strategy. With that in mind, the following are some things to know about how biometrics could potentially be relevant in your small business.
What Are Biometrics & Biometric Authentication?
Biometrics are unique, inherent physical characteristics that can be used to automate recognition. Fingerprints are one that we commonly think of, and facial recognition also falls into the category of biometrics. Biometrics can be behavioral or physical characteristics. They can be useful for granting access to data, devices, or systems.
Enterprise-level organizations are already relying on them pretty heavily for cybersecurity purposes, but it’s something that’s becoming a more realistic possibility for small businesses too. One recent survey found 92% of enterprises said biometric authentication is an effective way to secure identity data on-premises. In that survey, 86% of respondents said it’s effective to protect data in the public cloud.
In a separate study, 62% of companies said they were already using biometric authentication, and an additional 24% plan to roll it out in the next two years. While there are a lot of benefits, there are also things to consider. For example, you can only use biometrics for your employees in a way that’s not going to infringe on their privacy.
Small Business Applications
Some of the potential small business applications of biometrics can include.
The primary reason for a small business to think about investing in biometrics right now is for cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a huge concern that continues to grow. Attacks are more pervasive and sophisticated, and threats increase because of the opportunities presented by more remote work. Biometrics can be part of a Zero Trust security architecture, with Multi-Factor Authentication verification. The idea of Multi-Factor Authentication is that it creates more challenges and obstacles for a hacker to gain access to systems and information. Authentication is a process your employees use to provide digital evidence verifying they are who they say they are. The factors used in MFA are something you know, like a password, something you have like a phone or token, and something inherent to you, which is biometrics.
Biometric Authentication in Small Business – Time and Attendance
Some small businesses are beginning to use biometrics to more accurately and efficiently track employee time and attendance. For example, fingerprints can be used to see who’s clocking in and out. Biometrics can also be a tool for granting access to restricted areas of a business. Employers suffer around $11 billion a year in losses due to time theft, so the investment into biometrics may show a very favorable return.
In general, if employees feel like there is a system tracking what they’re doing at work, including if they’re working offsite, they’re going to be more accountable, and they’re less likely to do certain actions that could be damaging to a business. Biometrics can be an essential part of regaining a sense of control as many companies move to the cloud from an on-premises model.
The use of biometrics to authenticate payments is picking up steam across the board. For example, some large companies have employees pay for things in the onsite cafeteria using their thumbprint. It’s a natural expansion of digital payment technology that most people are using.
Biometric Authentication – Types of Biometric Factors
A biometric identifier at the core is related to a characteristic that’s intrinsic to a human. They can fall into one of two categories—physical and behavioral. Physical biometrics include.
This is something that’s very affordable and accessible for small businesses right now, and fingerprint scanners are already present on many new smartphone devices. Fingerprint scanning is currently the most common type of authentication using biometrics in the enterprise.
Facial recognition, as well as retina scans, fall into a larger category of photo and video. If a device has a camera, it can potentially be a source of biometric authentication.
This can include ear recognition, or recognition of palm veins, as examples. This isn’t very common right now.
Some businesses are already using voice recognition and voice-based digital assistants.
This is an interesting concept that could have a lot of implications for businesses, including small ones. We all have a different typing speed, cadence, and pattern, so there may be biometrics based on the impact you have on the keyboard as you type.
The way you walk could be used for authentication in the future, although it’s not widespread for small businesses right now.
Biometric Authentication – Biometrics Aren’t Foolproof
While there are a lot of business advantages of investing in biometrics, especially with cybersecurity, they’re not without potential pitfalls. First, there’s the feeling that employees might have about their privacy invasion with things like facial recognition, retina scans, and fingerprints. You have to be sensitive to these feelings as an employer and realize what boundaries need to be in place.
It is also possible to copy some biometric features. While biometric data can protect your cybersecurity, it’s not entirely immune to hacking. If you’re hacked, it’s not like you can just go and change your information like you would a traditional password. Small businesses will also have to be mindful of the regulatory roadmap ahead much of which doesn’t currently exist.
The best thing for small businesses to do right now as far as biometrics is to not jump into anything too quickly. Instead, they should learn what they can and find ways to make this technology attainable and beneficial for them without sacrificing employee privacy. You should also introduce it in incremental ways so that your employees have the chance to get more comfortable with the changes, especially if they’re working remotely and this is a high-priority change that’s necessary.