mobile devices mobile biometrics access management security identity

Where Mobile Devices and Biometrics Meet

Businesses have been struggling to cope with the introduction of mobile devices to the workplace since the introduction of the BlackBerry. From controlling what to employees have access to monitoring their communication and productivity on an “off-network” device, smartphones have been both problematic and a blessing for enterprises. And this has remained true as the power of smartphones has grown.

Where Mobile Device Management Fails

The largest effort to control mobile device access and usability in the workplace has been mobile device management (MDM). However, MDM solutions have several pitfalls. They require businesses to provide employees with devices, or users to allow their employers’ full access to their devices, including what they do, and what is stored, on them. These solutions focus on data segregation, communications security, document encryption, and policy enforcement, but at the end of the day, they often feel more like restrictions to the employee. While security improves, the convenience of using their devices is drastically reduced.

Why Choose Between Security and Convenience?

When presented with a black and white choice between securing data and resources, and making it convenient for employees to access them, a business will always choose security, but it’s never that simple. There are ways for companies to leverage security without making it inconvenient for their workforce to access the tools they need to be productive.

This is where the power of modern smartphones becomes an asset, and biometrics enter the picture.

“[I]nnate in mobile hardware are all the components needed for an emerging and objectively stronger method of enterprise security: biometrics,” Veridium CTO John Callahan recent wrote for InfoWorld. “From the camera to the accelerometer to the oft-use Touch ID pad, a full suite of security features is already at our fingertips:”

Smartphones now come with all of the sensors needed to authenticate users with their biometrics, a way to show who is truly behind an action, something passwords, and even two-factor authentication has never done. Every iPhone model, the world’s most popular smartphone, comes with Touch ID, and even Google’s newest low-end model comes equipped with a fingerprint sensor. But even on devices that don’t, the front-facing camera can be used to take a selfie for facial recognition, and the rear-facing camera can be used for hand recognition like 4 Fingers TouchlessID. Furthermore, the bevy of other sensors built into our devices, accelerometers, gyroscopes, GPSs, microphones, and pressure sensors, all provide constant feedback for passive authentication through behavioral biometrics.

In truth, smartphones are the ultimate biometric device, and about 2 billion people already have one in their pocket.

Biometric-Based Mobile Identity Access Management

So what does this mean for businesses? Ultimately, that instead of managing employees’ mobile devices, they can manage employee access using the device. The smartphone itself becomes a key, one part of a multi factor authentication strategy that ensures that employees are who they say they are using a fingerprint, face, voice, or even iris scan. Those employees can quickly log into accounts and access critical data in a secure fashion, and the enterprise is able to monitor, and control that access just as easily, while mitigating significantly more risk than previous MDM solutions would allow.

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