As advances in technology continue to improve the efficiency of work environments, biometric technology has emerged as a crucial part of securing the workplace both logically and physically. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work, forcing changes in the way organizations approached security. Biometric authentication provides a safe way to accommodate flexible workforces and remote collaboration without added risks.
However, the implementation of biometric authentication has led companies and their employees to raise concerns about individual privacy. It makes sense; biometric security measures involving a fingerprint, facial or iris scan rely on sensitive personal data, and employees may worry their information is vulnerable to theft or misuse.
Despite these concerns, it is possible to implement biometric authentication tools within an organization without jeopardizing security compliance. Here are three things you can do internally to prepare employees for the switch and ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.
Implement the Right Technology
Apps designed to function on employees’ mobile devices are just the latest in a series of developments designed to support the implementation of biometric authentication without significant investments in infrastructure or specialized services. These apps, however, also allow employees to capture biometric data and store digital credentials on their devices, ensuring only the person who owns the device can authenticate to it.
Not only are these app frameworks designed to give employees peace of mind regarding the storage of their biometric data, but they’re also designed to speed up the time for implementation. Because mobile devices are the primary identity security method and voice and facial biometrics are a primary authentication factor, these security measures are easy to set up, simple for IT staff to maintain and effortless to use for even the most technologically challenged employees.
Communicate Before Collection
When it comes time to implement biometric authentication processes within an organization, communicating the what, why, and how of that implementation to employees is crucial to ensure that they buy into the implementation and feel reassured their data will be safe.
It is important to circulate information explaining what biometric authentication is, how it will be used within the organization and how employees can secure and submit their own data through these app frameworks. Then, get consent in writing from employees before you collect their biometric information. Employees should understand the data collection and storage process and the organization should furnish any required disclaimers in accordance with state laws and policies.
As with every other step of the biometric security implementation process, consultation with the legal team is important. Many states are enacting biometric data privacy laws, so legal counsel is likely to be studying these and up to speed.
Store Data Carefully
Biometric data storage and security are critical elements of organizational security, and neither should be taken lightly. The way this data is stored matters; insecure data storage methods may put the data at risk of being leaked or stolen, exposing the organization and employees to unnecessary and avoidable risks.
One mode of biometric data storage is a portable smart card which can be an option for organizations that seek to provide employees with a certain amount of control over their biometric data. These smart cards aren’t typically vulnerable to network-related issues because they’re divorced from a larger network, but they are pricey and often require the user to present that card to biometric readers for identity verification, which can add to infrastructure costs. They are also at risk of being lost or stolen.
By contrast, a centralized biometric database may be less costly than the portable token approach, but storing all biometric data an organization owns in one place can increase that data’s vulnerability. However, some organizations may have business reasons to store the data centrally, in which case strong security and storage methods must be considered. There are also techniques available that enable an organization to break biometric data sets into anonymized fragments that are stored across a variety of nodes, making it virtually impossible for a hacker to access a full data set.
Regardless of the data storage mechanisms and policies chosen, biometric data represents a critical component of an organization’s entire security mechanism. It should be protected as such!
Making Biometric Security Happen
Most employees are tired of having to remember passwords and verification questions for every database or system they access on a regular basis. Biometric security helps organizations overcome those hurdles while also providing a more seamless security experience designed for the digital, decentralized workforce.
It is wise to leverage mobile device credentials, ensure employees understand their right to privacy and protection, and to consider using a decentralized, anonymized approach to storage. These guidelines should help enable biometric security as a part of a multi-factor authentication policy in the work environment in a manner that adheres to security compliance mandates and respects employee privacy.