In what way biometric can help to fight corruption?

Interview with Greg Sarrail, Vice President Solutions Business Development, Biometrics, HID Global

Greg Sarrail is a sales leader with over two decades of experience leading business strategy, marketing and sales teams with successful achievements in enterprise security related to authentication and identity and access management. Greg is an expert in managing field sales teams and building strategic partnerships, reseller channels and OEM relationships combining strong business management capabilities with outstanding sales performance. Greg has lead start-ups, small companies and divisions within established technology companies and has an MBA degree in International Business.

HID Global is the trusted leader in products, services and solutions related to the creation, management, and use of secure identities for millions of customers worldwide. Recognized for robust quality, innovative designs and industry leadership, HID Global is focused on creating customer value and is the supplier of choice for OEMs, integrators, and developers serving a variety of markets that include physical access control; IT security, including strong authentication/credential management; card personalization; visitor management; government ID; and identification technologies for technologies for a range of applications. HID Global is an ASSA ABLOY Group brand.

HID Global Company History:

•1991: Formed as Hughes Identification Devices, a subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft

•1995: Became a subsidiary of Palomar Technological Companies; changed name to HID Corporation

•1996: Acquired Sensor Engineering, adding Wiegand products

•2000: Acquired by ASSA ABLOY

•2001: HID acquired Motorola’s Indala RFID access control business

•2003: Acquired the card and reader business of Dorado Products, Inc.

•2006: Acquired Fargo Electronics and merged with Indala to form HID Global

•2006: Merger of HID Global and ASSA ABLOY Identification Technology (ITG)

•2007: Acquired Integrated Engineering, adding flexible MIFARE-based reader technology

•2010: Acquired ActivIdentity, a global leader in identity assurance

•2011: Acquired Lasercard, leading provider of secure ID solutions

•2012: Acquired EasyLobby, the industry leader in secure visitor management solutions

•2013: Acquired Codebench, a leader in physical security identity management particularly for the government sector

•2014: Acquired IdenTrust, a leader in trusted identity solutions recognized by financial institutions

•2014: Acquired Lumidigm, a global leader in biometric authentication solutions

1. How biometric authentication can affect people’s quality of life?

Widespread adoption of biometrics can enhance our daily lives by providing a convenient and secure way to verify our identities while protecting our private information. Individuals gain simple access to services such as opening a bank or store account or even accessing cash from an ATM without the need to carry an ID book or remember a PIN.  Businesses are able to provide more personalized services, streamline processes, decrease queues and provide a more accurate system to verify an individual’s identity.  Furthermore, identity theft, fraud and misuse are decreased.

2. Please, can you give an example of biometric technology using in everyday life?

While biometric technology has its roots in forensic systems, over the past several years adoption has expanded to physical access control (accessing a door with a fingerprint), logical access (integration with PCs and networks to enable access with a fingerprint instead of a username and password), transaction authentication as a claim of identity within a bank (for account origination and identity verification at an ATM) and most recently to secure access to a mobile smartphone.

The recent announcements by Intel and Microsoft and continued advancements by mobile device manufacturers coupled with the rising middle class in South Africa provide proof that biometrics will be a pervasive technology throughout our lives and will be used on a daily basis.

3. How will be handled all security issues with personal data during the process of biometric technology advancing? In my opinion it’s highly sensitive question for all citizens who are living in the countries with specific issues in protection of their rights.

Biometrics has the potential to provide a new layer of protection for what we typically consider our private information.  Demographics such as age, sex, education level, income level, marital status, name, address, height, weight are all elements that we would rather not have in the public domain.  However, in most cases we carry much of this information on identity cards such as driver’s licenses in our wallet today.  The adoption of biometrics allows this information to be protected and obscured providing access only to the individual who matches the biometric data.

4. What kind of biometric software can be found on the market?

Biometric software can range from an application that provides the biometric enrolment user interface to feature extraction and matching algorithms to server-side large scale automated biometric information systems which contain a database of the biometric information and provide deduplication and data integrity checks.

5. How much are expenses for this technology implementation? Would you be so kind as to provide a specific example?

The cost to implement biometric solutions ranges significantly depending on the use case.  One inexpensive convenience use case is single-user PC logon using a simple swipe sensor.  Other systems may require access to the South African Home Affairs database or require the installation of an independent database of biometric information to verify against once individuals have enrolled.  Biometric sensors range in price and are suited for various use cases.  Inexpensive sensors do not provide the same level of performance as commercial grade sensors and provide little or no protection against fake fingers.

6. In what way biometric can help to fight corruption?

Government programs around the world are charged with delivering goods and services to various populations. But how can the program administrators be certain that rations, for example, reach the intended recipients? What percentage of goods is being diverted to enrich corrupt local officials? Administrators must be able to know who is receiving the goods and services — and only biometrics can authenticate recipients with certainty.  With nearly one third of social service grants being paid without proper identity verification in South Africa, there is a massive need for a simple and effective way to validate identities.

Elections are another area that can be vulnerable to corruption. A biometric voter ID can ensure that there is only one vote per person, and that each prospective voter is eligible.

7. In what way biometric can improve state government efficiency?

The process of verifying the identity of a citizen and their authority to receive goods or services can be very laborious. In Argentina, for example, pensioners had to prove they were alive every month by presenting several documents, including their birth certificate, for personal review by a bank employee. This was time-consuming, error-prone, and expensive. A biometric authentication solution makes the process quicker and easier for pensioners while saving the government millions in fraudulent claims.

8. What benefits it may bring to the countries with poor living standards?

Biometric authentication brings important benefits to financial inclusion programs around the world. Some estimates show that as many as 2.5 billion adults around the world are unbanked. Without access to safe and secure financial services, the unbanked are vulnerable to theft, corruption, and exorbitant loan and service fees. Biometric authentication supports secure and easy-to-use access without depending on paper credentials or middlemen, and removes several opportunities for the system to be bypassed.

Biometrics, HID Global (

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