In the current digital world, protecting networks with only passwords is no longer an intelligent choice. With increase in enterprise communications and on-line transactions, there is a need for convenient security solution to ensure only the authorized people have access to sensitive data. The advancement of technology has provided end users the convenience of business transactions over a publicly accessible shared network, and thereby enabled customers the access to corporate networks. However, inadequate security has led to fraudulent activities, thefts, and financial losses. Biometrics has emerged as a most secured and convenient solution for meeting these enterprise security needs.
Biometrics is automated techniques designed to verify or identify people by their physical or behavioral characteristics. The most commonly used biometric technologies are fingerprint, face recognition, iris recognition, hand geometry, voice verification, and signature verification technologies. Biometric technologies have reached a point, where commercial applicability is viable due to their becoming more reliable, affordable, and accurate. An unauthorized user can fraudulently swipe someone's card or use their password to gain entry into a building or computer, but cannot use their fingerprint or face.
Biometrics middleware is an integral part in the entire security solution. They give the companies the flexibility to bind all their applications to any device acting as a plug-in mechanism between the application and the biometric devices. They allow for easy integration of multiple biometrics within a single system solution. Additionally, it allows for single sign-on (SSO) capabilities as a one-time log-on for several applications. Remote users can experience advanced authentication through biometrics by replacing passwords when individuals are logging on to a network server from a remote station or even when disconnected from the server. It also provides strong authentication in a shared environment such as in a hospital or financial institutions, where several people share a computer.
Most middleware companies support multiple disparate authentication technologies such as biometrics technologies, smart cards, radio frequency identification (RFID) badges, and public key infrastructure (PKI) using one common framework. Reporting and auditing tools are also a part of the middleware software. They provide authentication suites that allow for a single centralized administration point for managing multiple authentication solutions. Biometrics middleware applications provide for adding and deleting biometric templates to user profiles, managing their transportation across a network in a secure manner, storing the template in a database as an encrypted code, and managing the process of acting on the result of a matched request.
A key market driver is the need for adequate security in order to reduce Internet crime and information security breaches. Increasing transactions over the net has resulted in fraudulent activities and financial losses. Biometrics, a three level authentication is being used within the enterprise space as a strong authenticating factor to manage user passwords and strengthen the security system.
Traditionally used passwords or PINS are easy to hack and can be easily misplaced or stolen. Thus, remembering numerous passwords for different applications has invoked the need for its replacement by a convenient and a secure methodology. Biometrics also reduces additional expense in terms of a helpdesk for maintenance if the user forgot or typed the wrong password. Additionally, SSO is an essential offering by middleware vendors that automates access to enterprise-wide applications through a single login.
The middleware allows the integration of several technologies such as biometrics, smart cards and tokens, and PINs and passwords. The software can easily integrate with legacy systems and can be leveraged across multiple applications without the inconvenience of having separate systems for each. Furthermore, the multi-factor authentication provides for stronger security by collectively overcoming the limitations of individual technologies.
The Road Ahead
It is evident that middleware companies are poised for enormous growth in the near future. However, the key industry challenges that need to be addressed include:
The software needs to be compatible with all versions of Microsoft windows or other versions of computing platform. Most middleware supports version of windows, but not Unix and Linux. Some organizations might have old systems; however, middleware needs to seamlessly integrate with the existing platform at the enterprise.
There is a need for interoperable systems and standard-based biometric technologies to curb fraudulent activities. The industry has worked on creating standards. However, a lot of work still needs to be done including the compliance of these standards by all vendors. Without compliance to this standard, middleware companies need to customize their software with each proprietary hardware device.
The growth of middleware companies is largely dependent on the adoption levels of the technology. Increased awareness among end users across the globe about the competencies of the technology will lead to wider deployment of the technology.
The biometrics middleware market is in the growth stage. Companies such as Saflink , Daon, SecurLinx, AC Technology, and secunet Security Networks are beginning to witness considerable increase in activity, formulation of unified security management strategies, and acceleration of deployment plans. In the future, the middleware companies are likely to gain immense popularity and a steady upswing in market penetration.