--> Gill Blog: The Value of Biometrics?

Gill Blog

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Value of Biometrics?

Our increasingly risk-conscious world has been the catalyst in boosting the profile of biometrics. What is biometrics? Loosely defined, these are the security-based technologies that are used to match biological features of a subject such as iris patterns and fingerprints against those that are stored in a database (click here to find out more). In fact one of the biggest users of this technology today is the Department of Homeland Security.

Clearly, risk awareness has been good for business in the past few years, but some think the gravy train may be nearinig its end. Vic Wheatman, a prominent prognositicator of security at the Gartner group recently spoke to a conference in San Francisco, where he predicted a substantial drop in security spending. This prediction is based purely on the numbers.
"It is a myth that the more you spend on security the more secure you are," said Wheatman. "2005 will be the year of reckoning for security spending. The lowest spending organisations, often the most efficient, can and will safely reduce spending to three or four per cent [of corporate IT budgets]."

The tone of Wheatman's discussion focussed on getting the maximum amount of bang for the buck, and in this regard enthusiastically supported cost effective solutions such as wireless authentication, enhanced firewalls, more intelligent networking technology, antivirus and anti-spam checking, and content filtering. How did biometrics fare in the mix? Not too well as it turns out - in fact, Weatman seemed to give it the big thumbs down:
He maintained that hackers could beat such systems relatively easily, and that some companies which had installed biometric identification were now giving up and shutting down such systems.

The issues of vulnerability and bugs seem to be recurring themes that limit the expansion of places where these technologies can be deployed. We'll be sure to keep our 'eyes and ears' on this area as it develops.


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