March 08, 2001, 1:37 PM — LIKE THE PERENNIAL bridesmaid hoping to find her perfect match, makers of biometrics technology continue to search for easier and more cost-effective means to secure user implementation.
Despite some big strides made last year by physical recognition devices and software in building relationships with industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, IBM, Visa, and Wells Fargo, questions still linger as to the proper use and placement of biometrics.
Ultimately, the technology could find its strongest role as an intertwined and complementary piece of a multifactor authentication system, rather than a stand-alone single point of defense, says Charles Kolodgy, research manager at IDC, in Framingham, Mass.
"Authentication is something you have, something you know, and something you are when you add biometrics," Kolodgy explains. "I think right now users see [authentication methods] as separate items. The technology is there, but the idea is not."
In the future, Kolodgy foresees biometrics both playing a key role in enabling PKI (public key infrastructure) deployment by protecting public and private keys and residing in smart card and token technology in an effort to support personalized Web e-commerce.
Companies turning to biometrics to enhance their e-business systems hope to enhance user verification while maintaining customer satisfaction and accuracy. Many of those customers are discovering that biometrics products are becoming more flexible, capable of serving different purposes, or being used in tandem, accomplishing more than authentication.
With millions of streams of customer data traveling across its Web hosting systems daily, heightened security at a co-location facility is a must. But that strict level of authentication must be tempered with ways for customers and employees to navigate unimpeded in the caged enterprise, gaining instant access to targeted machines during an outage or problem.
Choosing to deploy Iridian Technologies' retinal scanning technology in conjunction with fingerprint and hand geometry biometrics features at his company's co-location facility in Vienna, Va., Ted Royster, director of ISX (Internet Service Exchange) security operations of Micromedia Fiber Network (MFN), says the automated result is invaluable.
"Initially, we heard customers wanted more unrestricted access and we noticed they were waiting in line," Royster explains. "Time is of the essence. If [customers] have an outage, then that's lost revenue."