AnalysisA case for RFID and biometric security solutions

Published 24 June 2008

Greater reliability and convenience make a case for RFID and biometric security solutions

Government and security agencies worldwide increasingly demand high-tech solutions to secure their borders. In response, the security industry is developing technology that will prevent rogue elements from crossing international borders without also creating bottlenecks. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, “Advances in Emerging Biometrics and RFID for Security,” finds that the mandatory requirement to use biometric-enabled smartcards to gain access control is a major factor driving this market. Currently, biometrics is used with applications such as national ID cards, passports, visas, and driver’s licenses. Some of the latest security technologies are not flawless and in order to reduce false positives and distinctly recognize every individual, the security market has developed a multi-factor authentication technology which integrates two different technologies’ radio frequency identification (RFID) and biometrics. This blended technology offers complex and enhanced security features which will make it difficult to breach. Meanwhile, administrative bodies, along with governments and major participants, work to ensure that end users do not feel apprehensive about adopting these new solutions.

The access control and user-authentication application remains one of the largest driving factors in the uptake of both RFID and biometrics technologies. “With the biometrics market moving toward merging multiple modalities for enhanced security, it is expected that iris and facial recognition will gain increased acceptance,” says Technical Insights Research Analyst R. Deepa. “The RFID market is more focused on improving the performance of existing tags and the standardization of tags.” Despite the success of biometrics and RFIDs as stand-alone technologies in various applications, end users remain unconvinced about their everyday practicability and economic feasibility as a blended solution. While both these technologies come with their individual sets of challenges, the fusion will present several more. Therefore, vendors will need to assuage customer concerns regarding privacy, which can be addressed through market education campaigns. RFID technology is undisputedly a significant improvement on conventional barcodes. While barcode reading remains time consuming and requires proper orientation of items to the barcode reader for smooth functioning, RFID tags allow simultaneous reading of multiple items in a stack. Apart from showing fewer false positives than barcode technology, RFID tags and readers also exhibit greater ruggedness and reusability, since the integrated circuits (ICs) are better protected in a plastic coat. “Another benefit of RFID technology is its ability to automatically update information about assets,” notes Deepa. “This significantly reduces the staff time required for maintenances and enables increased accuracy and reduced paper work.”

Biometrics also enjoys an advantage over traditional forms of identification like passwords, which complicate processes if the user forgets his or her password. Biometric access such as fingerprint technology eliminates the need for passwords by providing relatively hassle-free access to multiple applications. “Further, regular passwords hold a higher risk of getting stolen or hacked into, while biometric data remains difficult to clone,” observes Deepa. “With security issues gaining a top priority, biometrics could witness improved adoption due to outstanding features such as ease-of-use, efficiency, user friendliness, and higher levels of safety.”