Broad-based adoption of encryption tech expected this year

Sharath Kumar
New Update

BANGALORE, INDIA: Organizations 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.


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 Unisys global biometric applications development centre is based in Bangalore and has implemented enterprise biometric solutions all over the world. In an interaction with CIOL's Sharath Kumar, John Kendall, director, Security Programme, Unisys APAC, shares his insights on latest innovations in the encryption technologies and their adoption at enterprises.

Excerpts from the interview:


CIOL: How do you see the adoption of encryption technologies in the present enterprise security landscape?

John Kendall: This year, we expect to see broad-based adoption of encryption technologies as enterprises respond to threats to their unencrypted internal data traffic from outsiders and insiders alike. We are also seeing heightened security awareness and protection techniques related to enterprise Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs.

Most organizations are implementing some security measures related to smartphones and tablets in the workplace, but many aren't enforcing them consistently. More than half (56 percent) of organizations surveyed in the Unisys Consumerization of IT study, conducted in partnership with Forrester Consulting in 2013, reported that security continues to be the greatest concern when allowing employees to access business data via a mobile device at the workplace.


However, most organizations (78pc) are relying on passwords, a relatively primitive solution, to secure their mobile devices and applications. Fewer are considering more sophisticated security measures such as token-based authentication or biometric-based authentication.

CIOL: What about the latest encryption technologies driving increasing acceptance of cloud-based offerings?

JK: We believe that the increased use of encryption will enable and encourage more companies to use Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud solutions, where previously they might have had concerns about the safety of their data in the cloud.


Most IaaS solutions rely heavily on server virtualization to achieve the elasticity and rapid deployment we expect from the cloud. But virtualization introduces new technologies and attack surfaces that must be considered from a security perspective. Encryption, when layered with other security technologies like firewalls and access controls, can go a long way toward mitigating these concerns.

CIOL:What are the latest innovations in biometric technologies and challenges involved in implementing these technologies?

JK: There have been several innovations in the field of biometrics in the recent years.


We have increasingly sophisticated mobile fingerprint readers such as sub-dermal fingerprint readers, which read patterns of blood vessels or tissue beneath the fingerprint, making identity management that much more accurate and secure.

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+ meters distance and while the subject is moving).

Recent work in the area of facial recognition is 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.


Keystroke dynamics - Keystroke dynamics technology measures dwell time (the length of time a person holds down each key) as well as flight time (the time it takes to move between keys). Taken over the course of several login sessions, these two metrics produce a measurement of rhythm unique to each user.

Hand geometry - Hand geometry solutions take more than 90 dimensional measurements to record an accurate spatial representation of an individual's hand.

Lastly, we are seeing the integration of biometrics into everyday applications, rather than stand alone systems operated by forensic analysts and biometric specialists.


CIOL: What are the challenges in implementing these technologies?

JK: Some of the challenges involved in implementing these technologies include cost, lack of globally accepted standards, interoperability, reliability, and user perceptions. Some of the main challenges associated with scaling up the technology in India relates to the implementation of biometrics at a grassroots level.

These challenges include huge demographic variability across the country, climatic variability impacting the field devices and collection processes, difficult geography, lack of availability of networks or Internet connectivity in several parts of the country, disconnected agencies, need for multi-lingual capabilities, maintenance of standard formats for data, and misuse of data, among others.

CIOL: How affordable are biometric technologies for medium scale (mid level) enterprises?

JK:In the past, implementing a multi modal biometric system was an expensive endeavor, as a biometric system would have to be implemented on top of, or with an existing legacy security system. This would very often mean a major overhaul in the organizational infrastructure.

However, the past decade has seen an evolution in biometrics technology as well as in multimodal systems. In comparison with the last decade, biometric solutions have become much cheaper, and thus more affordable for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The cost of existing biometric technologies will only come down further, thus making a solution available to SMEs that, at one time, only the largest of corporations could afford.

CIOL: What is the cost of implementing biometric technologies for an organization and the returns on investment?

JK: For enterprises, particularly SMEs that face challenges with budget constraints, resource management and protecting their assets, biometrics solutions can prove extremely beneficial and cost effective in securing their IP and infrastructure, identity management, access control, and employee attendance management.

For instance, while resource management is a key function of any organization, it assumes even greater importance for an SME given that the bottom line is tied directly to employee attendance and productivity.

Additionally, while misuse of data due to data breaches or identity theft can prove to have dire consequences for large enterprises, they can prove absolutely devastating for an SME. Hence, biometrics technologies, which provide one of the strongest and most accurate forms of authentication, can prove extremely useful for SMEs in ensuring cost effective, fool proof security of their sensitive systems, data, and resources.

CIOL: Which verticals do you expect to be on the forefront in adopting biometric technologies?

JK: Biometric technologies provide the most efficient means to uniquely identify a person and enhance the identity confidence within an organization's decision making process. The technology has now matured to the point where it is being relied upon by commercial and government organizations alike to mitigate the risks associated with personal identification.

Government agencies are implementing large-scale biometric technologies and systems for national ID and security purposes. Unisys has played a key role in several international Identity and Credentialing (ID&C) projects involving biometrics (eg. Angola national ID project, Mexico national ID project, Australian Department of Immigration & Border Protection, and Queensland Drivers Licence).

The Next Generation Airport integrates the various stages of the air passenger experience with a biometric component to uniquely identify each passenger. Unisys' end-to-end solution covers the key touch points of air travel including from electronic boarding passes, to boarding planes, to passing through immigration, to baggage collection.

Among financial institutions,advances such as embedded biometrics in mobile devices will give rise to greater acceptance of consumer banking transactions and e-commerce on mobile devices. Likewise, 2014 will see banks further exploring the use of self-service outlets and kiosks that require a combination of physical and digital security methods, including biometrics.

Further, biometrics will play a major role in various industries including medicine, science, robotics, engineering, and manufacturing, among others. Smartphones, in particular, will help enable these services. Biometrics offers excellent value to various industries, but comes with certain challenges to individual privacy that we all need to be aware of.