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How Biometrics Can Improve Identity and Access Management

Biometric Post
Sep 12, 2023
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Biometric Post
How Biometrics Can Improve Identity and Access Management

Ever stumbled upon the abbreviation IAM (Identity and Access Management) and wondered what it stands for? Did you read it as, “I am ... ” the first time you saw IAM and thought, “OK! This does not make much sense” and brushed it off?

Today, we're exploring into the world of IAM (Identity and Access Management). We'll talk about its significance, the common methods organizations use for implementation, and the challenges they face. More importantly, we will discuss how biometrics can be a game changer in addressing the challenges that businesses and organizations face in establishing a robust identity management system for regulated and private information access.

What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

IAM, or Identity and Access Management, is a cornerstone of organizational security. It's all about ensuring that only authorized individuals access critical company data, while keeping unauthorized persons at bay. At its core, IAM is about user authentication. If you've come across the term more than a few times, especially in security discussions, it's because of its paramount importance in data protection.

It sounds like stuff to do with user authentication, right? True! Basically, that’s it! The bone of contention for any IAM process is ascertaining for sure that the person seeking access to a controlled data or information resource is who they really are.

Traditional IAM Methods and their Challenges in Organizations

Organizations have various tools and techniques at their disposal to implement IAM. These methods aim to manage user identities effectively and grant access privileges to vital data. Let's delve into some of the most common approaches:

1) Password Verification:

Passwords have long been the primary line of defense against unauthorized access. They are secret character combinations used for various purposes:

  • User Accounts: Passwords authenticate individuals, granting them access to resources like computers, email accounts, and databases.
  • File Protection: Specific files, such as critical financial data, can be password-protected for an added layer of security.
  • System Administration: Administrative access to servers and databases is controlled via passwords to ensure only authorized personnel can manage company data.

IAM Password Challenges

While passwords are a fundamental security measure, they have vulnerabilities:

  • Password Sharing: It's not uncommon for staff members to share passwords, either out of convenience or necessity. This can lead to unauthorized access and potential misuse of data. Imagine the chaos if a junior staff member, using an administrator's account, inadvertently disrupts a critical server!
  • Weak Passwords: Without stringent password policies, users might opt for easily guessable passwords. Such weak passwords can be exploited, posing a significant risk to organizational data.

2) Physical Staff Identification Cards:

Physical ID cards, branded with an organization's logo and details, serve as a primary means of identification. They grant bearers access to restricted areas.

Issues with Physical ID Cards

Physical ID cards, while useful, have their pitfalls:

  • Misrepresentation: Borrowed or shared ID cards can lead to unauthorized access. For instance, someone could use another person's ID to access restricted areas like libraries or labs.
  • Counterfeiting and Forgery: With advancements in technology, creating counterfeit ID cards has become easier. This poses a risk as unauthorized individuals can gain access to restricted areas or information.

3) Multi-factor Authentication (MFA):

MFA enhances security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of identification before granting access. For instance, after entering a password, a user might receive a one-time password (OTP) on their mobile phone. This two-step process, known as 2FA (2 Factor Authentication), is a subset of MFA.

Multifactor Authentication (MFA)'s Limitations

MFA, despite its enhanced security, isn't without issues:

  • Mobile Network Issues: OTPs, a common secondary verification method, rely on mobile networks. Network delays or outages can hinder the authentication process.
  • User Resistance: Some users find MFA procedures cumbersome. The added steps, especially if they face network issues, can lead to resistance, with users opting out of MFA altogether.

4) Contactless Smart Cards:

These cards, embedded with integrated circuit chips, use radio frequency (RF) technology to securely store and transmit data. They're versatile and can be used for various purposes, such as tracking staff attendance or processing secure payments.

Contactless Smart Card Concerns

Smart cards, though advanced, present certain challenges:

  • High Implementation Costs: Large-scale smart card implementations can be costly. This includes the cost of the cards, readers, third-party system integrations, and maintenance.
  • Smart Card Cloning: Just like ID cards, smart cards can be cloned. This can lead to unauthorized access and potential misuse.
  • Theft of Smart Cards: Lost or stolen smart cards can be misused, leading to security breaches.

How Biometrics Can Address Traditional IAM Challenges?

Biometrics offers a unique solution to the challenges posed by traditional IAM methods. Here's how:

1) Addressing Password Issues with Biometrics

Passwords have been the go-to for years, but they come with inherent vulnerabilities. Sharing, weak password choices, and the human tendency to forget can compromise security. So, how can biometrics offer a solution? Biometrics, given its uniqueness, can effectively curb password sharing. For instance, fingerprint authentication ensures that only the authorized individual gains access. Additionally, biometrics eliminates the need for users to remember complex passwords, reducing the likelihood of weak password usage.

  • Preventing Password Sharing with Biometrics: Biometrics, by nature, are unique. No two individuals share the same fingerprint patterns, not even identical twins. This uniqueness ensures that only the authorized individual gains access. Since biometric data can't be shared or replicated easily, organizations can be confident about the identity of the person seeking access.
  • Eliminating Weak Passwords: Biometrics removes the need for users to remember complex passwords. With biometric authentication, there's no risk of users opting for easily guessable passwords. It's a win-win: users enjoy a seamless login experience, and organizations benefit from enhanced security.

2) Enhancing Physical ID Card Systems

Physical ID cards have their place, but they're susceptible to forgery, misrepresentation, and theft. Biometrics can address these challenges head-on. Incorporating biometrics can prevent misrepresentation and counterfeiting. For instance, a biometric verification step ensures that even if someone possesses an ID card, they can't access restricted areas without the corresponding biometric data.

  • Preventing Misrepresentation: With biometrics, there's no "borrowing" or "lending" of ID cards. Only the registered individual can gain access, ensuring that facilities and data remain secure.
  • Countering ID Card Forgery: Biometric data is incredibly challenging to replicate. Even if someone manages to forge an ID card, they can't forge a fingerprint or retina scan. This added layer of security ensures that only authorized individuals gain access.

3) Improving Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) with Biometrics

While MFA is effective, it faces challenges such as network problems, resistance from users, and complex steps. However, biometrics can boost its efficiency. Biometrics can replace unreliable MFA steps like OTPs with quick and reliable fingerprint or facial scans. This process simplifies verification, making it more secure and effective.

  • Overcoming Mobile Network Issues: By incorporating biometric verification, organizations can reduce their reliance on OTPs sent via mobile networks. This ensures a smoother authentication process, even in areas with poor network coverage.
  • Improving User Experience: Biometric verification is quick and straightforward. By replacing cumbersome MFA steps with biometric checks, organizations can offer a more user-friendly authentication process, reducing user resistance.

4) Augmenting Contactless Smart Card Systems

Contactless smart cards are convenience, but they come with their set of challenges, from high implementation costs to the risk of cloning. Biometrics can be the answer. Biometrics can reduce the costs associated with smart card systems. Since individuals always carry their biometric data (like fingerprints), there's no need for additional cards. Moreover, biometric data can't be cloned like smart cards, enhancing security.

  • Cost-Effective Solutions: Biometric systems, once set up, can be more cost-effective in the long run. Unlike smart cards, there's no need for regular replacements or updates. This can lead to significant savings, especially for large organizations.
  • Preventing Smart Card Cloning: Biometric data is unique and cannot be easily replicated. This makes biometric systems inherently more secure against cloning attacks.
  • Addressing Theft Concerns: Even if a smart card is stolen, biometric checks ensure that only the authorized individual can gain access. This adds an extra layer of security, safeguarding against potential breaches.

Identity and access management is a critical aspect of any organization's security framework. With the challenges posed by traditional IAM methods, biometrics emerges as a promising solution. Offering a unique blend of security and convenience, biometrics is set to redefine the future of IAM.


Identity and access management is a critical aspect of any organization's security framework. With the challenges posed by traditional IAM methods, biometrics emerges as a promising solution. Offering a unique blend of security and convenience, biometrics is set to redefine the future of IAM.

Incorporating biometrics is more than just adopting a new technology; it's about recognizing the shift in the balance between accessibility and security. As we stand at this crossroads, the organizations that choose to embrace biometrics are not just future-proofing their security but are also making a statement about their commitment to innovation and the safety of their stakeholders. As we look ahead, it's clear that the future of IAM is not just about identifying individuals but doing so in a manner that is seamless, efficient, and above all, secure.

Key Takeaways:

  1. IAM Importance: Identity and Access Management (IAM) is crucial for safeguarding an organization's vital data. It ensures that only authorized individuals can access specific resources.
  2. Challenges for Traditional IAM Methods: While traditional IAM methods like password verification, physical ID cards, MFA, and smart cards have been widely used, they come with challenges such as password sharing, misrepresentation, network issues, and high implementation costs.
  3. Biometrics to the Rescue: Biometrics, using unique physical or behavioral traits, offers a more secure and efficient solution. Whether it's fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris scans, biometrics can significantly reduce the vulnerabilities associated with traditional methods.
  4. Future of IAM: As technology continues to evolve, the integration of biometrics in IAM processes will likely become more prevalent. Organizations should consider adopting biometric solutions to stay ahead in the security game.

What are your thoughts on the role of biometrics in IAM? How does your organization approach identity and access management?

We at Aratek Biometrics are passionate about providing cutting-edge biometric solutions that are secure, user-friendly, and cost-effective. If you're interested in enhancing your organization's IAM systems, reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you and explore how we can assist.


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