Tighter controls

Biometrics can help make your workplace more secure

No doubt you've read plenty of articles about how to make passwords for company devices more secure to prevent possible security breaches. But now companies are moving away from passwords toward various biometric security measures.

In a CNNMoney.com article, Alex Simons, director of program management in Microsoft's identity division, said: "We're seeing a very rapid evolution from what used to be passwords, then smart cards, and now to biometrics."

Biometrics relies on face, fingerprint and/or iris scans to confirm a person's identity. In the workplace, some employers have implemented biometrics to unlock company phones and computers and access data.

CNNMoney.com reports Spiceworks, a professional network for people in the information technology (IT) industry, says nearly 90 percent of businesses will use biometrics by 2020, up from 62 percent today. Fingerprint scanning is the most common type of biometric authentication. Facial recognition is far less common. And some companies want to do away with passwords altogether.

"Passwords are the weak link. They have terrible characteristics about them, and they're hard for you to keep track of," Simons told CNNMoney.com. "Passwords are also super expensive for companies."

According to CNNMoney.com, Simons said Microsoft spends more than $2 million in help desk calls per month helping people change their passwords.

However, though they are more secure, facial characteristics and fingerprints can be stolen, too. CNNMoney.com reports that in 2015, a breach at the federal Office of Personnel Management leaked 5.6 million people's fingerprints. Research has shown it's possible to use stolen fingerprints to log in to smartphones and trick facial recognition software by using a photo.

Most likely, biometrics will be an additional security measure for log-in procedures. CNNMoney.com says Spiceworks' data show only 10 percent of IT workers believe biometrics are secure enough to be used as the only form of authentication.

"As we get better at explaining to the world how it works and as we refine the software to make it easier to set up and use, more people are using it," Simons told CNNMoney.com. "Rather than trying to convince people we're right, we're trying to give people options. We are trying to do everything in an upstanding manner to protect your privacy."

Given security breaches are occurring all too frequently in the workplace, you might want to review your security policies to make sure you are doing all you can to protect your company's information, data and employees.

Ambika Puniani Reid is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA's vice president of communications and production.


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