An in-depth look into Biometrics in the Cloud

Organizations are effectively utilizing biometric technologies to replace traditional, alphanumeric passwords in Single Sign-on (SSO) solutions, or as a secondary verification mechanism for Multifactor Authentication (MFA). Some businesses also rely on biometrics to implement a Zero Trust Framework, a strict security protocol that requires verification of every user, on every device, for every transaction.

With the rapid advancement of cloud technology, we will likely see the integration of biometrics and the cloud. Before long, a remotely-hosted biometrics infrastructure will allow businesses of any size to take advantage of biometric authentication.

In this article, we will present some examples of the theoretical uses of a cloud-based biometrics service. We envision the following mentioned applications will one day become common in many organizations.

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What Biometrics In The Cloud Could Look Like

Biometrics in the Cloud refers to a complete biometrics infrastructure hosted and maintained by a cloud service provider. The scope of cloud-based biometrics includes, but is not limited to, Physical Access entry, Time and attendance, Single Sign-on, large-scale law enforcement applications (in particular AFIS, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System), the national ID Card, and e-Passports.

Biometrics in the Cloud will support any of the available biometric technologies. Whether using physical biometrics such as facial recognition or behavioral biometrics like voice recognition, cloud services offer business owners two key advantages: affordability and scalability. Any organization, no matter how large or small they are, could employ this infrastructure to improve security, efficiency, and the customers’ experience.

We can look at Biometrics in the Cloud from two different perspectives: as the small business owner applying the technology or as the hosting provider maintaining the infrastructure. In this article, we will focus on small business owners and how they might employ a cloud-based, biometric security system.

Biometrics In The Cloud – From The Standpoint Of The Small Business Owner

Cloud network
Cloud network

If a business wants to implement a new security system using cloud-based biometric technology, how would it begin?

Research and Evaluation

First, the SMB (small business) owner should conduct some research on the technology. We advise hiring a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to explore the possible uses of biometric technology and compare it to potential alternatives.

After conducting a comprehensive Systems Analysis and Design of the existing IT and network Infrastructure, the owner can consider how to integrate biometrics and which technologies to use.

Integration or Replacement

Depending on the business’s needs and results of the Systems Analysis and Design, the owner can either Integrate biometrics into the existing security infrastructure or deploy a new, biometrics-based system.

If, for example, an organization already possesses an advanced security system and prefers not to completely replace it, they may choose to keep what works well and enhance it by adding biometrics.

Which Biometric Technology to Use

Biometrics technology
Biometrics technology

Due to the versatility of cloud technology, all biometric tools will be compatible with a cloud-based infrastructure, though some technologies may suit a business’s particular needs better than others. For more information, refer to our other articles on specific biometric tools to learn what each technology has to offer.

Next, the owner must consider where to install the actual hardware devices based on their use. Here are some typical use cases:

1) Physical Access Entry:

To manage access to a private facility, an organization should position the biometric devices at the major access points, such as doors and gates.

2) Time and Attendance:

An organization can use biometrics to authenticate employees when they clock in and out of work. In this case, they will need to install biometric devices where the employees begin and end their shifts.

3) Single Sign-On:

Businesses can use recognition devices for Single Sign-on applications, placing them at employee workstations or client kiosks.

Integrating Biometrics with the Cloud

After installing the biometric devices, the SMB owner will need to work with a hosting provider. If you have ever used a cloud provider for web hosting, e-mail, or backup storage, you will find the process of integrating biometrics with the cloud very similar to using these services.

The hosting provider will supply all the technology needed for biometric verification and identification. It will host the database containing all the enrollment and verification templates, and it will process all incoming transactions. The business owner will only need to worry about installing the physical devices and registering them with the host.

After setting up the cloud account and registering the physical scanners, the business owner will have access to a fully functional, cloud-based, biometric security system. Within their hosting account, the business owners or IT security team will determine the specific access permissions of the employees and clients, and the system will enforce these rules.

From an employee’s or customer’s perspective, they will scan their finger, for example, if using fingerprint or vein pattern recognition, and the system will send the biometric data to the remotely-hosted server. Then, the cloud service will create a verification template and compare it with the enrollment templates in the database. If the system finds a matching template, it will consult the individual’s access permissions and respond to the local system with a verdict to either allow or deny access.

The diagram below illustrates this process:

Biometrics verification template
Biometrics verification template

Conclusions on Biometrics in the Cloud

The future of biometrics will likely benefit from the advantages of the cloud. Remotely-hosted and maintained cloud-based biometric systems will remain affordable and scalable as we deploy them for a variety of applications.

After assessing the business’s needs, installing the physical scanners, and registering them with a host, an organization can efficiently employ biometrics for Single sign-on, time and attendance records, physical access entry, and more.

In a future article, we will examine Biometrics in the Cloud from the standpoint of the Hosting Provider.

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