Can G+D’s StarSign Biometric Key Fob Address the Emerging Access Control Post-Pandemic Market?

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3Q 2021 | IN-6216

As the workplace looks to address a post-COVID-19 world, hygiene and technology security issues must be addressed.

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The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Workforce Management and Access Control

NEWS


During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations found themselves in the midst of multiple detrimental ramifications with direct effects on organizational logistics, workforce management, logical access control, cloud onboarding, and employee IAM (identity and access management), among many others. The number of homeworkers exploded as did the penetration rate for VPNs, endpoint security, antivirus options, and other employee mobility and protection services. While the pandemic has not been tamed yet and its adverse effects are still quite apparent in certain geographical regions worldwide, the number of organizations that are slowly opening their doors to welcome the homeworkers under IT-controlled corporate network is steadily increasing.

The hygiene concerns, however, are here to stay and the state of the market for physical access control and work environment safety has changed dramatically, prompting a brand-new line of safety protocols and government regulatory measures for a safe return. Certain digital identity vendors were already mobilizing to cover the access control market and Giesecke + Devrient’s (G+D) StarSign key fob is a perfect example of this new wave of biometric access control solutions.

Giesecke + Devrient's StarSign Biometric Key Fob

IMPACT


G+D’s new feat of engineering comes in the form of a biometric key fob featuring a fingerprint sensor, resembling a standard fob with the same level of a small and convenient design. Although the StarSign Key Fob’s primary use-case scenario revolves around physical access control, it actually hosts a more versatile range of applications.

On top of standard physical access to secure areas, gates, and smart buildings, it can also be used to enable logical access to employee devices and workstations (including a hot-desk and rotating workstation environment), as well as quick and secure access to corporate networks and servers, personal accounts (e.g., social media, personal emails, etc.), and higher value web applications (e.g., banking, utilities). Further, the fob supports contactless payments and transactions (which includes transportation applications and use cases), access to membership locations (e.g., gyms, clubs), and allows for secure document signatures and approvals as well as the encryption and decryption of digital documents. G+D states that the StarSign key fob is the first FIDO security key in the market which is combined with physical access control and payment applications. Being certified for both FIDO U2F and FIDO2, it can be applied largely across all FIDO enabled websites, services, and systems, eliminating the need for standard password usage. It supports NFC, BLE, and USB protocols with a battery life that is estimated approximately at 1 month with normal usage.

How Will the Market Evolve?

RECOMMENDATIONS


There are three important notes here. First, in essence, StarSign fob really does resemble a metaphorical “biometric army knife”, with a versatile use-case spectrum. Second, although it might be a bit early to hypothesize how the pandemic will affect workforce management and access control due to hygiene and disease prevention mandates, one thing is certain: contactless biometric options that do not rely on costly new hardware and can be adapted to existing infrastructure will certainly have the upper hand—at least in the short term. Third, this particular product appears primed and ready to fulfil a plethora of use-cases, but it also fulfils its purpose as a convenient and seamless all-access-device, from payments to company servers, supporting MFA options for added protection, as well as logical and physical access control.

Additionally, a biometric fob escapes the vulnerability confines of standard hardware access control tokens and smart cards. Even with the latest encryption processes and tampering resistance, the physical tokens are inherently prone to one of the least accountable measures: possession of the actual hardware. Similar to sharing a password or leaving a password in plain sight (as unfortunately is the case for many employees that need to change passwords regularly), a hardware token can be shared and does not provide a secure audit trail or increased employee accountability. As far as IT departments are concerned, the person behind a terminal is authenticated properly but they have no way of knowing whether they are who they claim to be. Smart cards, unfortunately, are subject to the same weakness, but a biometrically-enhanced token can address these concerns and still manage to provide security and convenience during the return of the workers in the workplace.

 

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