The exponential growth of the internet along with the increase in e-commerce applications usage calls for stricter security controls (i.e. using biometric security devices). The need to protect customer and financial data from unauthorized access makes logical security equally important to physical security for organizations.
Identity theft is a great concern for organizations especially with the increasing use of internet to achieve rapid business growth. Individuals who have been victims of identity theft know how difficult it is to prove that a theft has in fact occurred. The randomness of identity theft makes it difficult to prevent such acts and authorities remain continually frustrated with this crime.
Therefore, the needs for stronger security mechanisms to protect against identity theft along with the advancements in biometric technology are the major forces driving the adoption of biometric security devices in organizations.
Fingerprint recognition is one of the oldest forms of biometrics and is highly reliable and accurate when it comes to authentication. Fingerprint based biometric devices are highly popular because of their familiarity and usability.
How will biometric devices help to increase security?
Biometrics provides security benefits for everyone in the organization – end users, IT vendors, security system personnel etc. Biometric technology is one area which organizations cannot afford to ignore. Biometrics has been successfully implemented in many critical applications and has been used in access control for more than a decade. Although passwords have been traditionally used to authorize access to computer systems and networks, they cannot be considered a reliable security measure because of their vulnerability to being stolen or lost.
The advantage of biometrics over other security mechanisms such as passwords and tokens is that it cannot be lost, stolen, forged or faked. Biometrics is part of the individual’s being and they cannot lose it nor forget it. Biometrics satisfies the conditions of authentication, non-repudiation, confidentiality and integrity. Out of all the currently existing security methodologies, biometrics is able to provide a very strong access control and security solution for organizations.
The implementation of fingerprint based biometric security devices in an organization can significantly increase the security of electronic devices such as personal computers, company computers etc. Furthermore, the organization is able to protect its sensitive data better by implementing fingerprint biometrics as compared to passwords. Often laptops nowadays come with built-in fingerprint recognition feature that help users to increase the security of their data. Therefore, organizations looking to enhance the security of their premises, networks, systems and data can do so conveniently and reliably with the help of biometric devices. In addition to safety and security, biometric security devices allow organizations to easily track employee time as well as prevent time theft and buddy punching.
What to look for when choosing the right biometric device?
When it comes to technical specifications, biometric devices are quite similar to each other and also reading an individual’s fingerprints does not require extremely complicated hardware or software. However, choosing an optimal biometric fingerprint device is critical to ensure the success of biometric management systems in organizations and also to achieve the maximum return on investment (ROI). One important point to consider is the size and weight of the device as users do not want bulky machines. We will be discussing some factors below that can help in choosing the right biometric device.
DPI (Dots per inch)
The friction ridges and valleys that are on the fingerprint surface form patterns that are unique to each individual. When viewed up close, the exact arches and whorls are so unique in nature that even twins have different patterns. These characteristics can be used to distinguish individuals from an entire population. However, these distinguishing patterns are extremely small and subtle. Thus it becomes very important that fingerprint devices should have the capability to capture images of a person’s fingerprint in great detail.
The term DPI is the acronym for dots per inch and indicates visual fidelity i.e. the amount of information which is available within an inch of space of an image. Most devices usually have a DPI rating of around 500. It is important to point out that selecting a biometric device with low DPI will not offer incredible security for your organization since a blurry fingerprint image notes fewer data points as compared to a high-resolution image.
This feature is also known as spoof detection and might be required for organizations who want to implement unmanned access control for their premises or buildings. However, if the employees of the organization scan their fingerprints under supervision, then liveness detection feature may not be essential for your biometric hardware.
FAR and FRR
False acceptance rate (FAR) and false rejection rate (FRR) are the two parameters used by vendors to rate the accuracy of fingerprint based biometric devices. Although both FAR and FRR focus on the device’s ability to allow limited entry to authorized users, the sensitivity of the mechanism that matches the fingerprint can be adjust. This may lead FAR and FRR to vary significantly. When choosing a device, organizations will therefore need to understand how the vendors arrive at the quoted values of FAR and FRR. From these values, a plot can be drawn to determine the crossover error rate (CER). The lower the CER, the more accurate is the biometric device.
How sturdy is the device?
Biometric security devices come in various shapes and sizes and most devices are not very heavy. The selection of a particular device will depend on the needs of the organization. A large biometric device is sturdier compared to a smaller one. Hence if you plan to keep your hardware at a fixed location and also looking for sturdiness, a large device may suits your purpose. But if you plan to take your hardware with you anywhere and implement it as a mobile security solution, a smaller biometric device will suit your purpose.
What kind of fingerprints it will read?
The type of environment, the age group of people etc. are some factors that need to be considered while selecting a fingerprint based biometric device. For example, individuals performing manual work and in a dusty, semi-outdoor environment usually have damaged fingerprints and require a high end security scanner. On the other hand, people in a desk job have fingerprints that work well with any regular biometric device. Similarly, there are some readers that are best suited for kids and aged citizens.
Our verdicts and recommendations
As different organizations have different needs and objectives, they should select a biometric device that suits their purpose. Here is a list of the biometric devices that we recommend – Digital Persona U. are.U 4500, SecuGen Hamster Plus, Nitgen Fingkey Hamster DX, Suprema BioMini and Lumidigm M301.
The U.are.U 4500 fingerprint reader is from Digital Persona (now Cross Match) and designed to work with its own software suite. It can also be customized as per your organization’s requirement with the help of the software development kit (SDK) that is included with the reader. The U.are.U 4500 fingerprint reader comprises a high resolution sensor and some excellent security features that will stimulate your organization’s interest in this product. This biometric device has been specifically designed keeping in mind small business and enterprises that want to implement biometric security solution across their computer networks.
- This fingerprint reader works best for small businesses and enterprises that want to implement biometric security across their network of computers.
- It can identify the individual irrespective of the angle at which finger is placed.
- The U.are.U 4500 is a compact fingerprint reader which makes it an ideal solution for crowded desks or busy workplaces.
- The reader has a blue LED that lends a soft glow and does not compete in low light environments and at the same time adds a refined look to its overall appearance.
- The device comes with a special undercoating on the bottom and a high-quality metal casing that resists any unintentional movement.
- Even though the U.are.U 4500 can protect a single PC, it is not designed for individual consumers and doing so will lead to some wasted potential.
The U.are.U 4500 is an ideal fingerprint recognition device for a shared environment where there will be more than one user. Its feature set enables organizations to improve their security for a wide range of applications. The U.are.U 4500 can handle all fingerprint solutions for small businesses and organizations looking to adopt biometric security systems for their enterprise networks and helps to improve efficiency and security of their computer systems. With its small form factor, omnidirectional positioning and quick, accurate fingerprint scans the U.are.U 4500 is definitely well suited for desktop and mobile PCs as well as custom applications.
The U.are.U 4500 uses optical fingerprint scanning technology to produce high quality images of users fingerprint. The capture area of the scanner is of a good size and measures about 0.6 inches wide to 0.7 inches long. To have a good visual of the size of this fingerprint scanner, one can imagine a regular bottle cap that measures 0.75 inches across. The reader also has a silicone coating that helps it to identify users no matter how they rest their finger on the scanner.
This biometric security device never actually stores the fingerprint image of user but instead maps out between 25 and 40 unique parts of the user’s fingerprint and stores them as a template. The image of the user’s finger is deleted once the template has been saved. Although there is enough unique information in the template to identify each user, the original fingerprint cannot be reconstructed from this template which makes this fingerprint reader very secure. Furthermore, only the Digital Persona’s biometric engine can read these stored templates as they are encrypted.
This is the second version of the original SecuGen Hamster and has many noticeable improvements over the original one. The SecuGen Hamster Plus is packed with features and tools to address the security needs of businesses. This biometric fingerprint reader is designed to be used for personal computer security as well as for a larger network setting. Organizations can add a significant layer of protection to their networks by deploying this fingerprint device.
- The SecuGen Hamster Plus has an inbuilt feature called Auto-On that automatically detects live fingers. It automatically scans the user’s fingerprint when he or she places a finger on the reader.
- It is enabled with Smart Capture technology that allows it to capture high quality fingerprint images even in very brightly lit conditions and also to scan difficult-to-read fingerprints.
- The device is rugged and requires no maintenance. It is highly resistant to scratches, vibrations, impact and electrical shock.
- This biometric fingerprint device is compact, portable and light-weight with USB connection.
- The SecuGen Hamster Plus has a relatively longer life span. However, if the device is used on a daily basis by a large number of people, it will naturally lead to a shorter life span of this fingerprint reader.
The SecuGen Hamster Plus fingerprint recognition device can prove to be very advantageous for capturing fingerprint images under very bright conditions. It also does a very good job in cases when the finger skin is wet, scarred or aged. The Hamster Plus also comes equipped with various convenient features such as Auto-On technology for detection of live fingers; Smart Capture technology that automatically adjusts sensor brightness; tough exterior and extremely resistant to external shocks and vibrations. Users will be able to easily set this biometric device on any Windows PC and it also comes with USB connection and a 2-year warranty.
The SecuGen Hamster Plus comes with a high-quality fingerprint sensor and is compact in size. This biometric security device is 2.8 inches tall which makes it only a little bit taller than most standard faceplates for electrical sockets and light switches. The Hamster Plus comes with a removable weight stand. If you want the device to me even more compact, you can remove the weight stand. However, the extra weight from the stand can prove to be helpful for keeping the device in place while scanning of fingers.
The design of the Hamster Plus is intuitive and it can be very easily and quickly setup on any Windows PC. Moreover, users do not need to worry about any malfunction in the device as the Hamster Plus ships with a 2-year warranty. A USB cord is the primary medium of connection between the Hamster Plus and any PC.
The Hamster Plus definitely provides better security compared to standard passwords and relieves users from the burden of removing innumerable passwords for their various accounts and devices. User authentication becomes easy and highly secure as the fingerprints of users now becomes their password.
The Nitgen Fingkey Hamster DX is a high-end biometric fingerprint recognition device that possesses cutting-edge fingerprint technology for the detection of fake fingerprints. It is also packed with many other excellent features that make it a worthy choice for an efficient biometric security system solution. Users no longer need to remember various passwords for their accounts and devices nor do they need to worry about intruders hijacking computers and networks with stolen passwords. Their unique fingerprint becomes their password and this is the biggest security advantage of biometric security devices such as the Nitgen Fingkey Hamster DX.
- Nitgen Fingkey Hamster DX has a great feature known as Auto-On where the reader scans any finger placed on the device without requiring any prompt from the user. The Auto-on technology wakes up the device and asks it to perform the scanning action.
- This biometric device has a very powerful and reliable fingerprint matching engine and more importantly a top-notch built-in identification verification technology.
- Live fingerprint detection technology enables Fingkey Hamster DX to reject any fake or spoofed fingerprints.
- It is a highly durable and robust biometric security device with the ability to capture high quality images at 500 dpi.
- To use the Auto-On technology that comes with the Fingkey Hamster, the user needs to ensure that the fingerprint software is compatible with the Auto-On technology otherwise it becomes a useless feature.
The Nitgen Fingkey Hamster DX provides users with the best of both worlds as they can experience convenience as well as security with this device. It comes packed with many attractive features such as Auto-On technology that requires no intervention from user side and simply placing the finger on the sensor will start the scanning process. This biometric fingerprint device also works well with wet and dry fingers. Enrollment of dirty fingers also do not pose a problem later when attempting to unlock an application as this reader has a powerful fingerprint matching engine and very high-end built-in verification technology. It has a compact design that allows it to fit conveniently into any space and makes it an ideal biometric security system for your busy office or a bedroom.
This biometric hardware can be connected to any PC through a simple USB cable and comes with an easy and hassle-free setup process. This frees the user from any setup concerns and provides more time to focus on the other important matters. The users simply need to enroll their fingerprints and rest of the authentication is handled efficiently by the Nitgen Fingkey Hamster DX.
This high durability biometric security device can capture high-quality images of all types of fingerprints. Even wet and dry skin on the fingertip surface does not pose a problem for it. Users can access their locked application and devices with enhanced speed and reliability due to the high quality of images captured by this fingerprint device.
The Suprema BioMini is a biometric security device with a high level of functionality and compatibility. It can be very easily adapted to match the needs of any organization and adopting this biometric hardware will add an extra layer of security to a personal computer or professional network. The USB plug-and-play interface allows for easy and hassle-free setup and continued usage. Users need not preoccupy themselves with space concerns as the Suprema BioMini is a portable fingerprint recognition device with relatively modest dimensions.
- The most exciting feature of the Suprema BioMini is that it supports Linux PCs as well as Windows PCs.
- The software development kit (SDK) that is included with the Suprema BioMini has support for multiple programming languages such as Java, C#, Visual C ++ and others.
- The Suprema BioMini has a high resolution of 500 dpi and uses optical fingerprint sensor to produce high-quality fingerprint images.
- A rugged design and scratch resistant quality adds to the durability of the Suprema BioMini and makes it last for a good number of years.
- The Suprema BioMini has a very speed of fingerprint matching and takes only one second to scan 100,000 fingerprints saved in your biometric system.
- Allows instantaneous fingerprint recognition if the user is the sole person registered with the device.
- While this fingerprint recognition device can be used for personal computers, it will lead to a lot of wasted potential if the BioMini is used for home internet security and personal computers. The Suprema BioMini is better suited for businesses.
The Suprema BioMini has various excellent features such as high speed fingerprint matching that allows it to scan 100,000 fingerprints within a second and makes it an ideal biometric fingerprint device for identification and authentication. It’s relatively small dimension allows the fingerprint device to fit into compact spaces and its solid construction makes it a highly durable hardware. It has instantaneous fingerprint recognition for a single user registered on the system and the reader will probably last long enough that there may not be any more software to support it. This biometric security device is also ANSI- 378 and ISO19794-2 compliant.
The Suprema BioMini scores high on the usability factor as it has a high speed USB plug-and-play interface. Thus it is quite simple to setup and convenient to use. It also has a relatively small dimension that makes it a portable biometric device and it is able to fit comfortably in compact spaces. It has a width of little less than 2.6 inches which makes it only a little bit wider than standard light bulbs.
This biometric security device has a resolution of 500 dpi and captures high-quality images of user’s fingerprints using optical fingerprint sensor. Certain unique parts of the user’s fingerprint are converted and stored as a template. When a user attempts to access locked applications by entering his or her fingerprint into the biometric system, the Suprema BioMini will check current scan against stored templates. A CPU of 2.93 GHz provides the BioMini with excellent computational power that enables it to scan large number of fingerprints within a second. For single users, this means recognition of their fingerprints instantly. The BioMini has a solid device construction and enough weight which keeps the reader in place when users try to scan their fingers.
The Lumidigm M301 addresses many of the significant shortcomings of other biometric security devices and has been designed to produce fingerprint images and handle fingerprint recognition in the quickest and the most reliable way. Speed and reliability are the two most important factors that distinguish this biometric hardware from others. This device is really meant for businesses and aims to streamline business processes and enhance productivity. It eliminates the numerous passwords and employees now authenticate themselves with their fingerprints. It provides security without compromising on user convenience.
- The Lumidigm M301 fingerprint recognition device uses multispectral imaging technology and is one of the few biometric security devices with enhanced spoof detection capabilities.
- It is one of the few biometric devices that is able to capture the characteristics of fingerprints both above and below the surface of the skin.
- This fingerprint hardware has a very high storage capacity which allows it to store up to 50,000 templates for verification and makes it an excellent security device for any size business.
- This device supports both Windows and Linux operating systems. The Lumidigm M301 is also compatible with older versions of operating systems which allow it to be a possible biometric security solution for a much greater section of people.
- Although this fingerprint recognition device supports USB technology, the M301 is not compatible with USB 3.0.
- While this fingerprint device can be used for personal computers, it will lead to a lot of wasted potential if the M301 is used for home internet security and personal computers. The Lumidigm M301 is better suited for businesses.
The Lumidigm biometric fingerprint device works extremely well for spoof detection and fingers that are dirty or covered with gloves. It uses multispectral technology that allows it to capture images below and above the skin surface making it highly resistant to fake or spoofed fingers. High speed and accuracy along with a large storage capacity, form factor and compatibility with different operating systems make the Lumidigm M301 an excellent biometric security device for businesses of any size.
This biometric device is able to utilize USB 2.0 to its full extent and can be connected to any PC with a USB cable. It has a high-speed fingerprint sensor and captures very high-quality fingerprint images at 500 dots per inch. Thus the high resolution images provide a large amount of data for fingerprint templates which essentially means more secure user authentication. The fingerprint module of M301 utilizes multispectral technology which proves highly beneficial to capture clean and clear images every single time. This is an excellent feature as environmental conditions can lead to drastic changes on the skin surface thereby making it difficult for the hardware to correctly recognize fingerprints. But such surface changes do not pose a problem for the Lumidigm M301 as it uses multispectral technology.
This biometric device is very powerful in the sense that the same device can be used for any number of employees within the organization. This fingerprint recognition device has a high storage capacity and can save thousands of unique fingerprint which is extremely important for businesses. The multi-spectral technology also allows the M301 spoof detection capability and it can instantly reject any fake finger. This biometric security device can recognize user’s fingerprint on the very first try due to its enhanced speed and accuracy provided by the multispectral imaging technology.