possibility to explore every parking option available to them. Using smart parking technology saves a lot of time since we know where exactly to find a vacant parking spot.
Smarter parking strategies are essential for smart cities and are expected to be at the front-line in terms of technology development in the coming years. However, given the high instrumentation and system management costs, the economies of scale and complexity require advanced technology with newer working models. eSSL Security is one of the leading biometric companies in India and has grown into international territories since inception (2002). With the vision of being a top player on a global scale, eSSL has built in-house expertise to be the vision. With over 6000+ channel partners and 6 lakh customers, the network of eSSL wove itself due to eSSL’s support and proven technology solutions and products. eSSL being recognized as a recipient of prestigious “Frost and Sullivan awards”, has excelled in providing services and solutions with the knowledge of in house expertise. eSSL’s major contribution to government sectors has put the government one step ahead in terms of security.
- The gate on one side of the doorway contains a radio transmitter. This constantly beams out radio waves to the gate on the opposite side of the doorway, which contains a radio receiver.
- A shoplifter walks through the doorway carrying a stolen book.
- The book contains a hidden RF tag stuck to a label inside, which picks up the radio waves.
- Once activated, the RF tag transmits a radio wave of its own at a very precise frequency.
- The receiver gate picks up the radio waves and identifies their frequency.
- If the frequency is correct, the gate figures out that a stolen item is moving through and sounds the alarm.
About ALERT TECHNOLOGY
Iris recognition is an innovative and secure biometric authentication method. Artificial intelligence makes this technology more accessible for use in CCTV cameras, smartphones, and other access and security controls. Such identification reduces the risk of failure of facial recognition systems. In this article, we’ll cover how the technology works, a comparison of the iris and retina scanning, and the prospects for the future of iris recognition.
Table of Contents
WHAT IS AN IRIS SCAN? DEFINITION & MEANING
Iris authentication technology is believed to have evolved from another very well-known technology, retinal authentication. Iris scanning technology was first proposed in 1936 by an ophthalmologist, Frank Burch. He stated that each person’s iris is unique. The probability of its coincidence is about 1078, which is much higher than with fingerprinting. According to the theory of probability, in the entire history of mankind, there have not yet been two people with the same iris. In the early 90s, John Duffman of Iridian Technologies patented an algorithm to detect the iris of the eye.
Scientists have conducted several studies showing that the human retina can change over time while the iris remains unchanged. It is impossible to find two completely identical patterns of the eye’s iris, even in twins.
Glasses and contact lenses, even colored ones, will not affect the imaging process in any way. It should also be noted that the performed operations on the eyes, removal of cataracts, or implantation of corneal implants do not change the iris’s characteristics; it cannot be altered or modified. A blind person can also be identified using the iris of their eye. As long as the eye has an iris, its host can be identified.
The camera can be installed at a distance of 10 cm to 1 meter, depending on the scanning equipment. The term «scanning» can be misleading, as the process of obtaining an image is not scanning but simple photographing.
The iris’ texture resembles a network with many surrounding circles and patterns that can be measured by a computer. Iris scanning software uses about 260 anchor points to create a sample. In comparison, the best fingerprint identification systems use 60-70 points.
The cost has always been the most significant deterrent to technology adoption, but iris identification systems are becoming more affordable for various companies. Proponents of the technology claim that iris recognition will very soon become the mainstream identification technology in various fields.
HOW DO IRIS SCANNERS WORK?
The unique iris pattern must be recognized to pass such a biometric scan, allowing an identification response. This means that there are two stages in scanning the iris of the eye:
STAGE 1: TAKING A SNAPSHOT OF YOUR EYE
All that such a recognition system needs to verify a person is a snapshot of his iris. Therefore, to launch this scenario, each person must go through one-time photographing of their eyes. In this case, the photographing procedure takes place under standard lighting and invisible infrared – the latter is a type of light used in night vision devices that has a slightly longer wavelength than ordinary red light.
Infrared light in the iris scan helps to recognize the unique pattern of darker eyes more accurately, which is more challenging to do in normal light.
These two digital photographs, taken under different types of lighting, are then subjected to computer analysis, which removes unnecessary details (such as eyelashes) and highlights about 240 features in iris patterns (approximately five times more «features to compare» than used in fingerprint identification systems).
After that, all found unique characteristics for each eye are converted into a simple, digital number consisting of 512 digits (also called an iris code), which are stored in the computer database along with your name and other details. Taking a picture of your eye is completely automatic and does not take more than a few minutes.
STAGE 2: CONFIRMATION OF THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE EYE
Once the iris photo has been entered into the database, your identification process will be easy and hassle-free. The person stands in front of an iris scanner connected to the database and goes through a quick re-photographing of the eye.
The system quickly analyzes the resulting image, extracting an iris code from it. It starts the procedure for comparing hundreds, thousands, or even millions of iris codes available in the database. If the code matches one of the codes entered in the database, the person is positively identified. If it fails, this means that the snapshot is not familiar to the system, or the person is merely trying to counterfeit who they are.
WHY IS AN IRIS SCANNER UNIQUE TECHNOLOGY?
The iris is a circular piece of colored muscle tissue that frames the human pupil and helps it to clench/unclench like a camera shutter. Our iris’ color pattern is formed at the genetic level even when we are in the womb, but it finally completes its formation during the first two years of our life. The color of the eye’s iris depends on the amount of melanin pigment: the more melanin, the more the eyes have a brown tint, the less — the more pronounced the blue color.
Although we are used to distinguishing the color of each person’s eyes clearly — «brown eyes,» «green eyes,» «blue eyes» — the color and pattern for each particular iris is unique. For example, even two people’s eyes have two different shades and patterns of their irises. The same goes for the eyes of genetic twins.
|HD Criterion||Odds of False Match|
|0.26||1 in 1013|
|0.27||1 in 1012|
|0.28||1 in 1011|
|0.29||1 in 13 billion|
|0.30||1 in 1.5 billion|
|0.31||1 in 185 million|
|0.32||1 in 26 million|
|0.33||1 in 4 million|
|0.34||1 in 690,000|
|0.35||1 in 133,000|
IS IT POSSIBLE TO FOOL A SYSTEM?
Automatically detecting new types of cosmetic contact lenses in iris images is a highly complex pattern recognition task. But recently, experimental datasets have emerged to help researchers investigate the problem. Given the pace of progress in other aspects of iris recognition, the research community is likely to make rapid progress in addressing the tampering problem. You can also use retina recognition to improve recognition accuracy.
HOW ACCURATE ARE IRIS SCANNERS?
The iris is one of the unique biometric characteristics used for identification. During verification, about 260 key points are used (in comparison, fingerprint verification uses about 16 key points). Simultaneously, the template itself takes up a small amount of memory, which allows you to quickly authenticate a user and use massive databases with relatively little computing resources.
Access control and accounting systems with iris identification have FAR — 0.00001% and FRR — 0.016%. According to the NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology), iris recognition accuracy is 90-99%. ScienceDirect has also conducted a study that showed 100% effectiveness using the iris recognition method.
It is believed that it is impossible to forge identification data using this method. The fact is that, in addition to the individual pattern of the iris, the human eye has unique reflective characteristics (due to the state of tissues and natural moisture), which are considered in the process of reading information.
And to further enhance safety, some iris scanners also capture the eyeball’s involuntary movements inherent in a living person. By the way, authentication by the iris of a dead person is also considered impossible: after death, the pupil expands, making the iris area too narrow and therefore unsuitable for scanning.
HOW SAFE ARE EYE SCANNERS?
There are concerns regarding iris identification, fearing that an iris scan’s infrared rays could negatively affect vision. Our eyes do not have protective reactions to infrared radiation. When rays of bright light blind us, we reflexively squint or turn away, and the pupil of the eye narrows spontaneously. Since we do not see infrared light, we cannot determine when we fall under its influence, and the eyes do not respond to this radiation by constricting the pupil.
To reduce the harmful effects of infrared light on the eyes, designers use visible white light before infrared scanning. The use of such illumination causes the pupil to contract spontaneously, which reduces the penetration of infrared rays into the cornea of the eye. Another positive aspect of the pupil’s constriction when identifying by the iris of the eye is the expansion of the identifiable area. The increase in the iris’ visible area allows you to get unique information for its encoding and recording in the biometric template.
Conventional photo and video cameras of telephones and cameras have a built-in IR-cut filter designed to exclude infrared radiation’s influence on the quality of the resulting image. Biometric facial identification from the front-facing 2D camera is easy enough to deceive. To detect deception, the developers began to use point IR illumination, with the help of forming a depth map of the object being shot.
Controlling a three-dimensional figure in front of the camera prevents simple methods of deceiving biometric identification systems using a photograph or video recording of an identified person.
This happens due to the lack of an IR filter in the front cameras of most modern smartphones.
Manufacturers are implementing solutions that minimize the harmful effects of infrared radiation on the eyes:
- The power of the radiation source and the wavelength is limited.
- The radiation time is reduced. IR illumination is turned on only for the time necessary for identification, which is continually decreasing due to algorithms’ improvement.
- The distance from the source of infrared radiation to the eyes is controlled. The infrared light will not turn on if the camera is very close to your face to avoid harm to your eyes.
- White pre-illumination is used to reduce the pupil diameter.
WHAT IS A RETINA SCANNER?
The human retina is the thinnest tissue in the body and is made up of nerve cells located at the back of the eye. Due to the complex arrangement of the capillaries that feed the retina with blood, each person’s retina is unique. The network of blood vessels in the retina is so complex that it differs even in identical twins. The retinal pattern may change due to diseases such as diabetes, Mellitus, or glaucoma. However, in other cases, the retina, as a rule, remains unchanged from the moment of birth until death.
Retinal scan technology is used to display a unique pattern of human retina. The retina’s blood vessels absorb light more intensely than the surrounding tissue, so they are easy to identify. Retinal scanning is carried out by projecting an invisible beam of infrared light into the human eye through the scanner’s eyepiece.
Since the retina’s blood vessels absorb this light more intensely than the rest of the eye, a pattern is created during the scan, which is converted into computer code and stored in a database. Retinal scans also have medical applications. Infectious diseases such as AIDS, syphilis, malaria, and chickenpox, as well as hereditary diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell disease, affect the eyes. Pregnancy also affects the eyes. In addition, signs of chronic diseases such as chronic heart failure or atherosclerosis also appear first in the eyes.
RETINA SCAN VS. IRIS SCAN
Often confused with retinal scanning, iris recognition systems capture the eye’s image and then analyze the colored portion around the pupil, the iris that you can see with the naked eye.
In turn, the retina is made up of photoreceptor cells located at the back of the eye and cannot be seen. While iris recognition captures the iris’ texture pattern, a retina scanner captures an image of the network of blood vessels inside the eye.
|Disease||Safe||Low probability of causing harm|
|Distance||Normal distance||Close distance|
|Complexity||Easy to use||Complex|
|Acceptance||Highly accepted||Lowly accepted|
«Unlike the retina, the iris can be seen with the naked eye, so it is much easier to get a high-quality image of the iris,» says David Usher, a senior research scientist at Retica Systems, which designs and develops identity data systems based on iris analysis. «In the iris recognition system, images of the iris are captured using near-infrared (NIR) LEDs and algorithms, which are then used to convert the texture of the retina into a special code. This code or image is compared with patterns in the device’s memory, and then confirmed or refuted personal identification.»
WHICH IS MORE COMMON: RETINA OR IRIS SCANNER?
Iris recognition is more widely accepted as a commercial biometric technique than retinal scanning. While both recognition methods are non-contact, retinal scans are considered invasive because they direct visible light into the eye, whereas iris recognition uses contactless digital photography for identification.
The iris identification technology is more widely used in various industries. To date, nearly 1 billion people worldwide have registered with iris recognition systems for security and convenience purposes such as national identification, border control, finance, banking, etc.
The iris recognition by-product market is divided into smartphones, tablets, PCs/laptops, and scanners. The widespread adoption of eye scanners in banking and finance, military and defense, and travel and immigration, especially for identity management and access control applications, is the main reason for the largest share of this segment in the iris recognition market.
WHERE ARE IRIS SCANNERS USED?
Recognition of people by the pattern of the iris of the eye nowadays finds more and more widespread use. In some respects, it still lags behind other biometric technologies; in others, it overtakes them. Simultaneously, biometric technologies have many common advantages over other methods of human identification.
Biometric technologies can be used as an alternative to existing authentication methods that require memorizing countless passwords, passphrases, PIN-codes of plastic cards, bank accounts, and so on.
Today, the use of such technologies is most often performed in security systems for:
- Control and management of access to the protected object when crossing state borders and restricting access to electronic resources, various personal devices, banking accounts, deposits, etc.
- They ensure the security of financial transactions: payment transactions, withdrawing cash from an ATM, etc.
Biometric data read from the iris plays an important role in controlling access to highly restricted areas. Twenty-nine airports in Canada are using iris recognition technologies to verify that they are authorized to board an aircraft. At Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, a fast-track passport control system uses iris scanning to identify the crew and passengers who fly frequently.
Most installations of iris recognition technology at airports are used for passengers on international flights and can be used instead of showing their passports. Recognition is usually accomplished in less than one second, and the high resolution and quality of the resulting images reduce the rate of rejection and rejection errors.
One of Boston’s largest hotels uses an iris-based access control system to identify guests staying in the elite presidential suite. Another facility in Boston uses this technology to keep track of children who go missing and need to be identified in the future.
Many governments have already used this technology as a highly useful, secure identity management tool. It is soon expected to enter mainstream commercial sectors such as automotive and mobile communications.
As a result, the iris pattern’s application is expanding, although its potential is just beginning to unfold. Each of the leading manufacturers offers scanners in several form factors and can equip large corporations and security agencies with the flexibility to accommodate all their needs.
PROS AND CONS OF IRIS SCANNING
Let’s underline the most prominent features of the technology.
Iris recognition is the most advanced technology available today. What are its advantages?
- Stability — A unique iris pattern is formed at the age of 10 months and remains unchanged throughout life.
- Uniqueness — the probability that two different irises will have the same pattern is practically zero.
- Flexibility — the technology can be used both independently and in conjunction with other security systems.
- Reliability — the iris pattern cannot be lost, stolen, or counterfeited.
- Non-Contact — Unlike retinal recognition, iris recognition is contactless and fast, providing unrivaled accuracy from a distance of about 30 cm.
It is worth noting that iris recognition has some disadvantages:
- Higher initial costs — This technology’s cost is more compared to other biometric recognition systems like fingerprint sensors.
- Mass tracking and bulk collection — Governments can use this technology for mass surveillance and tracking.
- Can be hacked — Some commercial iris scanners can be bypassed by using high-resolution images of a user’s iris.
FUTURE OF EYE SCANNING
Iris recognition remains one of the most promising biometric technologies for personal recognition. Especially in demand is the realization of the iris’ potential for use in non-contact scenarios identification and a face image — and possibly other contactless biometric identifiers.
Therefore, the most relevant research directions are to improve recognition in non-invasive scenarios due to improving sensors, improving the system’s informative signs, and integration with other modalities. Of particular interest is the use of the iris in cryptographic applications and secure identification.
Eye scan recognition has certain advantages over other biometric technologies that make this technology one of the most preferred mobile devices. In recent years, several companies have introduced smartphones equipped with iris authentication technology. Biometric authentication is a promising technology that will eliminate the usual authentication schemes using a password. This will increase the convenience of working with the device, and at the same time, increase the level of protection of personal data.
Iris recognition remains one of the most promising biometric technologies for personal recognition. Especially in demand is the realization of the potential of the iris for use in non-contact scenarios identification together with a face image and possibly other contactless biometric identifiers. Therefore, the most relevant research directions are to improve recognition in non-invasive scenarios due to improving sensors, improving the system’s informative signs, as well as through integration with other modalities.
IRIS SCANNER FAQ
WHAT DOES AN IRIS SCANNER DO?
When scanning an eye, the pupil region and the iris itself are highlighted. The resulting ring is programmatically cleared of noise and converted into a rectangular format — an iris code, containing information about the object’s unique characteristics in black and white (like a barcode or QR code). Then the iris code is compared with the database of registered templates. At the same time, the processing speed is too high, which makes it possible to use the system for working with large databases.
HOW LONG DOES AN IRIS SCAN TAKE?
Iris recognition is the most advanced and accurate biometric technology available today, providing precise identification without PINs, passwords, or access cards. User registration is done in less than 2 minutes. Authentication lasts no more than 2 seconds.
CAN AN IRIS SCANNER DAMAGE EYES?
Infrared radiation increases the overall temperature of the aqueous humor in the eye, affecting the cornea and aqueous humor. IR-A radiation is absorbed by the retina and is very ineffective in damaging the retina. Moreover, the image capture procedure is concise and can usually be achieved within 2-10 seconds. However, in today’s biometrics industry, security standards can be ignored.
DO IRIS SCANNERS WORK IN THE DARK?
Although the term “scan” is often used to refer to iris recognition, it is not a scan at all. The technology is based on recognition of the iris pattern, and the pattern capture technique, in turn, is based on video recording. The camcorder does not require bright lighting or close-ups.
WHO USES AN IRIS SCANNER?
Iris recognition technology is used to gain access to devices and databases and access buildings, rooms, and apartments. However, the most massive increase in installations of this technology is now observed at the airport. Various fields of application in iris recognition technologies and targets and objects of injections are presented in the table.
DO IRIS SCANNERS WORK WITH CONTACT LENSES?
Colorless contact lenses are not believed to interfere with iris recognition systems. However, research by Sarah Baker, Amanda Hentz, and Kevin Bowyer of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, has shown that this is not the case. Contact lenses create significant artifacts in the image and lead to significant degradation of the biometric solution’s accuracy.
About ALERT TECHNOLOGY
Security is an important priority for organizations of all sizes and industries. If you work with pricey equipment or confidential data, safeguarding your company’s assets is crucial for success. Whether your employee roster has 10 people or 10,000 people on it, an access control system can facilitate their needs – and deny access to people who aren’t on the list.
Access control systems can save you money, making access easier for your employees, and secure your workplace. Whether you are an administrator or a business owner, read our guide to answer any questions you might have about access systems.
WHAT IS ACCESS CONTROL? DEFINITION & MEANING
Access control is a method of security that can regulate who views or uses resources – thus, minimizing the potential risk of a business. There are two primary types of systems: logical and physical.
Physical access control systems limit people’s access to buildings, rooms, campuses, and other real areas. On the other hand, logical access control systems limit connections to system files, data, and computer networks.
Many organizations use e-systems that give or restrict access, dependent on whether the user has proper credentials. Some of these systems have card readers, auditing functions, access control panels to restrict entry, and even lockdown and alarm capabilities.
Access control systems authorize and authenticate users by evaluating credentials such as passwords, PINs, security tokens, and biometric scans – among others. Often, systems incorporate multi-factor authentication (MFA), which needs 2+ authentication factors.
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WHAT IS PHYSICAL ACCESS CONTROL?
Physical access control uses a set of policies to control who can enter a physical area. Some real-world kinds of physical access control include:
- Subway turnstiles
- Club bouncers
- Badge/card scanners
- Customs agents
WHAT IS LOGICAL ACCESS CONTROL?
Logical (or informational) access control tools are used to restrict access to data and software. Some examples are:
- Using a password to sign into a laptop
- Unlocking your phone with a thumbprint scan or a selfie
- Accessing an employer’s internal network remotely via VPN
WHY USE AN ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM?
Mechanical keys are the most rudimentary physical access control method – and many smaller companies use them. However, mechanical keys have limitations, especially as an organization grows. Here are the disadvantages that come with using keys instead of an access control system.
- You can lose keys. If an employee loses a key, you’ll need to replace the lock so that the lost key won’t be used by somebody who should haven’t access to the restricted location. After that, you will have to give new keys to anybody who does need access.
- No audit trails. There is no way for you to keep track of who has used a key to enter an area, or at what time.
- Difficult to manage. If somebody needs to gain access to lots of different rooms and buildings, they will need several keys – at a certain point, this can be very inconvenient.
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF ACCESS CONTROL?
Any physical or logical access control system has five main parts:
- Authentication. This is the act of proving the identifying of the user. This might involve verifying the authenticity of a website’s digital certificate, validating a form of ID, or comparing login credentials to stored data.
- Authorization. This specifies whether a staff member has access to certain resources.
- Access. After a person is authenticated and authorized, they are allowed to access the resource.
- Manage. The system can add or remove the authorization and authentication of systems or users. There are some systems that streamline the management process by syncing with Azure Active Directory or G Suite.
- Audit. This is used to enforce the “least privilege” principle – essentially, audits minimize the risk of users having access to resources that they no longer need.
HOW ACCESS CONTROL WORKS
A company may use an electronic system that uses access card readers, user credentials, auditing, and reporting, or an intercom. Or, it may use biometrics to authenticate a person’s identity and compare that to its integrated set of access policies.
Another solution may use MFA, where a user needs to be something (biometrics), know something (a password), and have something (a 2FA SMS authentication code).
Generally, access control solutions work by identifying a user, verifying that they are who they say they are, authorizing that they actually have access to the resource or location, and then associating their actions with their username or IP address for auditing purposes.
MODERN ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS COMPONENTS & PARTS
Access control management systems increase their convenience and reliability by combining various technologies. Here are some components they may have:
- Reader: To read a fob or keycard, the door needs to have a reader. There are several kinds – for instance, wireless, standalone, and IP readers.
- Electric Locks: Typically, access control systems use magnetic locks, electric strikes, or wired mortise locks. There can also be an electrified push bar, which comes in handy if there is a fire.
- Door Sensors: Contact sensors and motion sensors will be able to understand the door’s status – is it open? Closed? Has there been motion nearby?
- Video Surveillance: Some smaller businesses may use wired DVR systems, while modern businesses may have IP cameras connected to an NVR.
- Video Intercoms: You may have a single- or multi-unit intercom; this depends on whether you need to call a single party or multiple ones. Intercoms may also have audio, video, dial-in, or touch screen configuration.
- PIN Pad: These are used for convenient access – however, this comes with the drawback of PINs being shared among users. Sometimes the pad is located on the lock or installed as a standalone pad.
- Access Control Panel: A standard panel is the center of controls that connects all doors to the Internet. It will trigger the dogs to unlock under “correct” scenarios.
- Push to Exit Button: This button ensures that anybody can leave the area if there is an emergency.
- Power Supplies: A good supply is of great importance; if the power were to fail, the door could unexpectedly unlock.
THE METHODOLOGY OF ACCESS SYSTEMS
Access control systems must communicate with external security devices – and there are common methods of doing so. Systems can facilitate a connection between the server and the reader using smartphone-based, cloud-based, or IoT (Internet of Things) based methods.
- Cloud-Based: These systems store logs, data, credentials, and more info on a remote server through cloud-based software. The main advantage of cloud-based communication is that you can access the account from any location, as long as you have a secure Internet connection. This makes it possible for companies to easily coordinate systems from more than one office.
- Smartphone-Based: Users are connected to the system via a smartphone app. An administrator can use the app to remotely access the system, view stored data, and make changes. Users who need access to an area can also use the app, which will verify the user’s credentials at the reader’s site. All you have to do is log in to the app, hold the device next to the reader, and then automatically gain access to the restricted area.
- IoT-Based: These systems use a dedicated server to connect the reader to the control panel. Users can gain access via internet-based protocols.
WHY IS ACCESS CONTROL IMPORTANT?
Access control is important because it reduces the risk of unauthorized access to computer systems and physical areas – thus, it is the foundation of data, network, and information security. Access control is a compliance requirement for some organizations. Some regulatory requirements include:
- PCI DSS: The 9th requirement under this regulation requires organizations to control physical access that visitors, media, and onsite personnel have to the buildings. Furthermore, organizations under these requirements must use decent logical access controls to reduce the cybersecurity risk of sensitive data being stolen.
- HIPPA: Covered entities (plus relevant business associates) must prohibit unauthorized access to protected health info – and this must be done via electronic and physical access control.
- SOC 2: Third-party vendors and service providers must protect customer and employee privacy by preventing data breaches via encryption.
- ISO 27001: This is an information security standard that mandates management to audit all of their organization’s vulnerabilities and cyber threats. There are comprehensive transfer and risk mitigation protocols.
CLEAR BENEFITS OF ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS
Various features of access control systems can effectively mitigate many security risks. Some easily addressed risks include:
- Tailgating. This happens when an authorized person gives access to somebody who isn’t authorized. Security cameras and multi-factor authorization, as well as employee training, can mitigate this risk.
- Door Ajar. Thieves can use a strong magnet to trick a system into believing it is still secure. They can also cut the system’s power, which will manipulate the magnetic lock and leave it unsecured. You can mitigate this risk by using battery-powered back-ups for magnetic locks.
- Natural Disaster and Power Failures. By choosing electronic strike locks, you can avoid lock failure during a power outage.
- Computer Equipment Failure or Cyber-Attacks. By maintaining updated software, frequently backing up files, and programming readers to operate separately from the main controller, you can allow secure access even if the system is compromised.
- Access Card Failures. Some systems can encrypt a transmission between the reader and the access control panel, and they can automatically change credential codes for lost cards and terminated employees.
- Sequential Authorization Codes. This is a simple fix: just issue codes in a randomized order so nobody can “count up” and get a new, valid access code.
TYPES OF ACCESS CONTROL
|Type of Access Control||Definition|
|Mandatory||Access rights are controlled by a central authority, and it uses multiple security levels. These are often used in military and government environments. Classifications are assigned to certain system resources.|
|Discretionary||The owners of the system can set access policies. Administrators are able to limit the sharing of access rights.|
|Role-Based||Groups are assigned access, rather than individuals (for instance, employees who are classified as engineer level 1).|
|Rule-Based||Conditions, such as the location or the time of day, are set. Often, this is used in combination with role-based access control.|
|Attribute-Based||Access rights are managed through the evaluation of policies, rules, and relationships using user attributes and environmental/system conditions.|
WHY ACCESS CONTROL IS STILL A CHALLENGE
There are still challenges associated with access control – these are mainly due to modern IT’s highly-distributed nature. It can be tricky to keep track of moving and evolving assets when they are spread out. One example includes password fatigue – this is when a user struggles to remember a large number of passwords that are part of their daily routine. This is why access systems that are passwordless are growing in popularity.
APPLICATIONS FOR ACCESS CONTROL
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE
As offices continue to offer more flexible working routines, businesses need to incorporate fast and reliable access control in their commercial building security systems. They also need to be able to connect to apps like Slack.
You can reduce shrinkage by utilizing a system that helps staff enter and exit the building, while also storing and reporting that information. Good retail access control should let employees be automatically added or removed from the directory, due to retail’s high turnover rate.
You’ll no longer need door buzzers or doormen – with a mobile access system, tenants can easily access common spaces. Plus, they can gain the ability to give temporary mobile passes to dog walkers, delivery services, and other visitors.
Protecting students and professors should be a top priority in any educational setting. With mobile credentials, schools can be both welcoming and safe. What’s more, an access control system can help with fulfilling attendance quotas.
Churches and other religious organizations often experience burglary, violence, and vandalism. However, too much protection can diminish these institutions’ welcoming feel. Access control systems can allow lockdown capabilities without being overwhelming to visitors. Furthermore, these systems can grant access to volunteers, parents, and other temporary visitors.
Ever since President Bush’s Homeland Security directive of 2004, all government access control systems are required to include Personal Identification Verification credentials. Rigorous security standards ensure that risks are mitigated, including unauthorized access and crisis management.
SPORTING AND ENTERTAINMENT EVENT VENUES
Stadiums can contain tens of thousands of spectators, which makes them a prime target for acts of violence. Access control systems can help security teams create a policy that doesn’t sacrifice the safety of fans. What’s more, media, vendors, and athletes can all gain access to different rooms – each one having its own security requirements.
IT positions are increasingly becoming more remote and flexible – thus, their departments require versatile, remote access control solutions. Such systems can ensure that only IT staff gain access to the server room.
OIL AND GAS
A breached refinery could spark a global crisis – thus, sites need to be constantly monitored. Video surveillance is already in place at most sites, but access control will reduce how many operators are needed on-site. Readers could also check license plates and grant access to restricted areas.
Hotels need to keep up with HomeAway and Airbnb – thus, they are adding concerts, full bars, stores, and other amenities to retain customers. However, these all come with security concerns. Access control can help the hotel assign access privileges to vendors necessary for each amenity.
There are security challenges associated with bus and train stations, due to the influx of people and ever-changing traffic patterns. IoT systems can improve the safety of station employees without requiring a manual key or a badge. Plus, it can help with time and attendance tracking.
While TSA secures terminals, thus preventing criminal activity on a plane, there are still plenty of airport vulnerabilities. For instance, vehicle drop-off and pick-up locations are often unsecure. Access control systems can guarantee that those vehicles don’t enter restricted areas.
Physical banks are cutting down on personnel since many consumers are choosing to use mobile apps or online banks instead. However, this makes it more difficult to secure back offices, storage rooms, and other restricted areas. IoT systems can lock these areas without a physical guard.
Modern warehouses are more automated than ever – however, security has not yet caught up. Keypads and traditional locks are still prevalent, but lost keys can eat up a lot of money. Control systems can make sure that warehouse safety remains secure at all times.
Physical security solutions are typically used to protect cash and chips in a casino. Some facilities even store hundreds of keys – this is not efficient by any means. Mobile access control could manage a casino’s assets much better.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM
When you are ready to plan your model and its configurations, you must consider all factors that could eventually impact the functionality of the system. Here is a checklist that can help you pick a system that best fits the needs of your organization:
- Standalone or network
- Number of access points
- Number of doors
- How permissions are managed
- External exits
- Installation procedure
- In-house or third-party monitoring
- Additional features (like alarms, face recognition, anti-passback, etc.)
The need for excellent security has never been greater. Physical and virtual threats are ever-evolving, thus demanding advanced technology, in-depth analytics, and stringent safety measures. Keys and simple passwords no longer cut it. The right access control system can help you secure physical and informational assets, cut personnel costs, and keep your staff and employees safe.
Whether you have a small company or a global enterprise, a reliable and reputable access control system can help you meet security challenges head-on.
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ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM FAQ
WHAT ARE THE 5 TYPES OF ACCESS CONTROL?
WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF ACCESS CONTROL?
WHY IS ACCESS CONTROL NEEDED?
WHAT IS AN AUTOMATED ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM?
WHAT ARE ACCESS CONTROL DEVICES?
WHAT IS BIOMETRIC ACCESS CONTROL?
Biometric access control uses physical and behavioral characteristics to identify and authorize a user.
About ALERT TECHNOLOGY
Technology is integrated into just about every aspect of modern life – and with the ever-increasing digitization of our world, it has become more difficult to safeguard confidential information. Keys and passwords are no longer sufficient data security measures. Passwords, in fact, pose a huge vulnerability in a company’s security system due to their shareability and ease of cracking.
With the abundance of and network security breaches and the rise of identity theft, it is clear that stronger authentication methods are necessary. One such method is biometric security systems. In this article, we’ll take a close look at what biometric security is and why it’s the future of identification and authentication.
WHAT IS BIOMETRIC SECURITY? EXTENDED DEFINITION & MEANING
Biometric security is a security mechanism that identifies people by verifying their physical or behavioral characteristics. It is currently the strongest and most accurate physical security technique that is used for identity verification. Biometrics are mainly used in security systems of environments that are subject to theft or that have critical physical security requirements. Such systems store characteristics that remain constant over time – for instance, fingerprints, voice, retinal patterns, facial recognition, and hand patterns.
These characteristics are stored as “templates” in the system. When somebody tries to access the system, the biometric security system scans them, evaluates the characteristics, and attempts to match them with stored records. Then, if a match is found, the person is given access to the facility or device.
The most commonly used kind of biometric security system in physical access is fingerprint sensors. This is due to their lower cost; however, for the best accuracy, high-security environments often use iris recognition systems.
WHAT ARE BIOMETRIC IDENTIFIERS?
Biometrics are unique physical identifiers that are used by automated recognition systems. For instance, the veins in your palm, the minutiae of your fingerprints, and the shape and pattern of your iris are all your unique biometric identifiers. For a full breakdown of biometrics, read our detailed guide, “What Is Biometrics?”
WHAT ARE BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION AND AUTHENTICATION?
While biometric security systems can combine identification and authentication, the two functions are not the same. With biometric identification, a person’s features are compared to an entire database. With biometric authentication, on the other hand, the system is checking to see if the person is who they say they are – so their attributes are compared against one particular profile from the database.
For a practical example: Facial recognition security systems might use video surveillance to identify known shoplifters when they enter the premises of a store. The store might also have a separate fingerprint system that authenticates an employee and gives them access to a restricted room upon scanning their fingerprint – the scanned data is compared to the stored, approved template.
If you want a more detailed look at the difference between the two functions of biometrics, check out our article, “Biometric Authentication, Identification, and Verification in 2020.”
WHY IS BIOMETRIC SECURITY IMPORTANT NOWADAYS?
More and more companies are recognizing the benefits that biometric security devices can bring – not just in securing physical environments but also computers and business assets. In corporate buildings, it is crucial that unauthorized people are restricted from accessing secure networks and systems. Furthermore, due to compliance regulations, it must be ensured that only certain employees have access to sensitive files and that workflow processes are followed to the letter. For sensitive data, passwords aren’t ideal, as co-workers can share them. Instead, organizations can use biometrics to regulate server or computer access.
Companies that use biometric security systems can benefit from extreme accuracy and unparalleled security of restricted information. Fingerprints, retinal scans, and iris patterns, when captured correctly, produce totally unique data sets. When an employee or a user is enrolled in a biometric security system, automatic identification can be performed uniformly, quickly, and with only minimal training.
HOW DO BIOMETRIC SECURITY SYSTEMS WORK?
The importance of biometric security in modern society is ever-growing. Physical characteristics are unique and fixed – including among siblings and even twins. An individual’s biometric identity is able to replace (or, at the very least, supplement) password systems for phones, computers, and restricted areas.
After a person’s biometric data is gathered and matched, the system saves it to be matched with subsequent access attempts. Usually, the biometric data is encrypted and then stored either in the device itself or in a remote server.
Hardware known as biometrics scanners captures physical characteristics for identity verification and authentication. The hardware’s scans are compared to the saved database – and, depending on whether a match is found, access is granted or restricted. You can think of your own body as a key to unlock secure areas.
Biometrics brings two major benefits: they are convenient, and they are difficult to impersonate. While such systems aren’t perfect, they bring huge potential to the future of cybersecurity.
HOW BIOMETRIC SECURITY SYSTEMS ARE DESIGNED
When designing a biometric system, the primary goal is to encrypt the private cryptographic code with biometric technologies – each of those technologies should produce a limited number of information vectors – which, in turn, will be considered as biometric cryptographic keys. Next, the systems must calculate a hash function for every key. Hashes may be stored on a USB token, a server, a smart card, or another form of storage. One benefit of this process is that the storage method won’t actually contain any sensitive data since the biometric attributes features themselves are not stored.
Each part of the private key is encrypted with all biometric vectors produced in the biometric attribute encryption phase. The entirety of the information (i.e., hashes and encrypted values) is saved on the database. Since the database doesn’t contain secret information, access to it does not need to be limited. The biometric key encryption is only stored in volatile RAM.
Identity verification is done via the hash values. When an individual attempts to log in, they claim their identity and then present one of their features for biometric authentication. If just verification is performed, one biometric attribute is plenty – for instance, a fingerprint scan. A certain set of features is acquired from this biometric attribute. Then, from that set, a subset of vectors is generated. That subset is considered to be the biometric cryptographic key. Lastly, the hash function is calculated from this vector – and the calculation’s result is compared to stored hash values.
TYPES OF BIOMETRIC SECURITY
We’ve written a complete guide to types of biometrics; here, though, we’ll present a summary of the most crucial information.
There are two main types of biometrics used for security: physical and behavioral. Physical biometrics analyze facial features, eye structure, hand shape, and other things involving your body’s physical form. With behavioral biometrics, on the other hand, the system analyzes any pattern of behavior that is
associated with the individual.
|— Facial geometry
— Skull shape
— Hand geometry
— Palm or finger veins
|— Speaker recognition
— Keystroke dynamics
EXAMPLES OF POPULAR BIOMETRIC SECURITY
Some forms of biometrics are more popular than others, either due to their affordability (fingerprint scans) or their high levels of accuracy (iris recognition). Let’s take a look at some of the most widespread forms of biometric security systems.
Facial recognition is done by analyzing the ratios of an individual’s facial features: for instance, the distance between the eyes, the nose, the lips, the ears, the chin, and the eyebrows. Facial recognition is highly accurate, and results only take a split-second.
Iris authentication technology photographs a person’s iris and analyzes its texture. The software uses approximately 260 anchor points when creating a sample – which is much higher than, say, fingerprint systems, which have 60-70 anchor points.
Each retina has its own unique network of capillaries – and, in most cases, the retina remains unchanged throughout a person’s lifetime. Retina scanning occurs when a beam of infrared light is projected into somebody’s eye via an eyepiece. The retina’s capillaries absorb the light better than other parts of the eye, so the scan is able to create a pattern of blood vessels – which is then measured and verified.
Fingerprint systems are very commonly used due to their affordability, security, and relative accuracy. A fingerprint scanner produces a digital image of the print, and a computer turns the minutiae into a code via pattern-matching software. That code is then compared to the database of approved identities.
A speaker’s voice is used to verify their claimed identity. It is a 1:1 match, in which their voice is compared to a voice model (also known as a voiceprint). Such systems usually give access to secure systems like telephone banking. Voice recognition typically operates with an individual’s knowledge and cooperation.
This kind of biometrics is used to identify people based on their unique vein patterns within their palm or finger.
Geometrics features of a person’s hand are assessed and compared to a template. Features assessed may include the length of the fingers, the distance between knuckles, and the width of the hand.
WHAT ARE BIOMETRIC SECURITY SYSTEMS USED FOR?
You have likely noticed biometric security systems showing up more and more often in retail and banking environments, as well as mobile devices. Let’s take a closer look at where you can see biometrics in use today – some will be familiar to you, but others may come as a surprise.
Banking customers have grown weary of the constant need to prove their identity – yet, without this, the threat of identity theft will continue to rise. Therefore, biometric security systems for banks are in demand. Many banks that have mobile apps allow user authentication via biometrics such as facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, and voice verification. And other banks use a combination of these biometrics; multi-factor authentication, when combined with biometrics, can create a nearly impenetrable layer of security.
Many companies nowadays are installing access control and time tracking systems that incorporate biometric authentication. Take, for instance, Id-Time from RecFace. This software automatically records employees’ working hours and compliance with labor regulations, and it uses biometric data to do so. Identification takes less than 1 seconds, and 7 kinds of reports are generated during the execution.
Single sign-on is a method of authentication in which a user logs in to multiple software systems with just one ID and password. For instance, you can use your Google login information to access Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, and many more applications.
Single sign-on is also often used in healthcare services to give doctors access to many systems easily and quickly. However, the healthcare industry is often subject to data breaches – which means that there is a pressing need for the industry to begin integrating biometric authentication into single sign-on procedures.
Over the last few years, iOS and Android devices have added biometric authentication features. The first smartphone to feature fingerprint scanning was the Motorola Atrix back in 2011. At the time, the technology was quite flawed; nowadays, though, almost every modern smartphone uses fingerprint scanning.
However, device biometrics has also moved beyond mere fingerprints. Take Face ID, for example; it was introduced in 2017 with Apple’s iPhone X. This feature projects more than 30,000 infrared points onto a user’s face, assessed the resulting pattern, and then generates a “facial map.” That map is then used to authenticate later login attempts.
Samsung has a biometric security feature of its own: Intelligent Scan. It combines facial recognition with an iris scan, thus providing biometric multi-factor authentication.
We mentioned how biometrics are used by banks; however, there is another financial application: biometric payment security. This technology is integrated during transaction authorization processes and, for now, mostly involves a fingerprint scan.
Biometric technology can allow an individual to enter a home once its scanning unit has verified their identity. Access to office buildings, entire houses, or particular rooms can be controlled via biometrics. Biometric locks negate the need for a key and are operated with the swipe of a fingerprint instead.
ARE BIOMETRIC SECURITY SYSTEMS SAFE?
While biometric technology has been growing by leaps and bounds, and it certainly an exciting industry, you must keep in mind that it doesn’t guarantee absolute cybersecurity. While biometric security is much harder to fool than passwords, it is still possible to be breached. For instance, criminals can “lift” fingerprints off of surfaces and use them to access biometrically secured systems.
Furthermore, you must consider whether the database that holds your biometric data is secure. Take, for instance, when the US Office of Personnel Management was breached in 2015. Over 5 million fingerprints were stolen. If your data is compromised, it isn’t as if you can change your fingerprints.
It is also possible to “trick” biometric scanners that use facial recognition technology. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill constructed 3-D models of 2D face photographs. The researchers then tried to access five security systems using those 3-D models, and they successfully breached four of the systems.
So, as you can see, while biometric security is highly accurate, it is not invulnerable to breaches.
HOW SHOULD BIOMETRIC DATA BE PROTECTED?
While organizations that gather biometric data are primarily responsible for protecting it, there are ways that you can take personal responsibility to protect your data. Here are some guidelines that individuals and businesses should follow to protect biometric information.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BIOMETRIC DATA
- Only share your biometrics with highly trusted organizations;
- Before sharing your biometrics with organizations, make sure that they have necessary cybersecurity measures in place;
- Only share biometric data when it’s absolutely necessary. Ask if it’s worth it; for instance, is enabling facial recognition on Facebook truly necessary?
- Use strong passwords to make it difficult for hackers to steal your stored biometrics;
- Use reputable cybersecurity software to safeguard your digital life.
HOW COMPANIES SHOULD PROTECT YOUR BIOMETRIC DATA
- Keep all systems and software up-to-date;
- Use multi-factor authentication and strong internal passwords;
- Use reputable, strong cybersecurity software;
- Use anti-spoofing technology to protect the system from breaches.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF BIOMETRIC SECURITY SYSTEMS
To sum up what we’ve presented about biometric security systems so far, we’ve compiled their advantages and disadvantages.
ADVANTAGES OF BIOMETRIC SECURITY
- Biometrics are inherent to the user. In the vast majority of cases, a person’s fingerprints, retinal patterns, and facial geometry will never change;
- Biometrics are difficult to duplicate. Most modern biometric security systems use liveliness checks to protect against spoofing attempts;
- Permissions are easily managed. With many systems, administrators can instantly give or restrict permissions to employees, and the list of accepted templates is automatically modified;
- Efficiency is increased. Most biometric systems can authenticate users in less than one second – thus strongly cutting down on time delays caused by PINs, passwords, and manual identity checks;
- Fewer security staff. A biometrics system can do the work of multiple security employees – meaning that companies can save money since there is less need for assigning dedicated security staff to access points;
- No replacement costs. Lost fobs and cards occur at a high rate, and this often comes with a replacement cost. Biometrics, on the other hand, can’t be lost.
DISADVANTAGES OF BIOMETRIC SECURITY
- The environment can impact biometric security. For instance, a higher error rate may occur in a very cold environment;
- There could be a false acceptance or a false rejection. Both have been known to happen; even though biometric security may have a 99% accuracy rate, the 1% rate of inaccurate authentication could have detrimental results;
- They require hardware and integrations. Not only does a biometric security system rely on having a computer, a sensor, and the necessary software, but it also needs the expertise of a programmer for system management;
- Scanning challenges may occur. For instance, if you are wearing glasses during an iris scan, this could cause difficulties and slow down an otherwise quick process;
- They come at a high cost. Even though biometric systems are cheaper than they used to be, they are still much more expensive than traditional security devices;
- Biometric data can’t be reset if it is compromised. If your fingerprints are stolen, you can’t
change them like a password.
ADDRESSING THE DOWNSIDES OF BIOMETRIC SECURITY
With security solutions from RecFaces, you can offset the downsides of biometrics. By integrating your
biometric scanners with the RecFaces platform, each of your security systems will be improved in the
- 1 sec. identification speed;
- 10 mix-and-match, ready-to-use products (including Id-Target, Id-Guard, Id-Logon, and more);
- Increased security;
- Additional identity verification measures for large transactions.
Our solutions are highly suitable for business centers, industrial facilities, sports centers, schools, retail
centers, banks, transportation facilities, medical institutions, and the law enforcement industry. Contact
us for a consultation on how our solutions can fit your organization’s security needs!
THE FUTURE OF BIOMETRIC SECURITY
We strongly believe that biometrics are the future of e-security systems – and the proof is in the pudding: more institutions are embracing biometrics by the day. Even the Windows 10 OS has incorporated a biometric security platform. Biometrics are also used in stadiums, airports, and banks across the world. Government agencies and law enforcement have also migrated to biometric systems – therefore, it is very likely that even more organizations will follow suit in the near future.
While biometric security systems are not fool-proof, they are still faster, more cost-efficient (in the long run), and more accurate than traditional security methods.
To sum up what we’ve presented today: biometric security systems most often measure the physical characteristics of an individual, and then provide access to a computer, a server, or an environment. Some popular kinds of biometric systems are facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, and iris recognition. The world of biometrics is developing quickly – we anticipate that it will become more prevalent than traditional security in just a few years.
BIOMETRY SECURITY FAQ
IS BIOMETRIC SECURITY SAFE?
Biometric security is highly accurate, but it is not fool-proof. When used correctly, though, and when cybersecurity guidelines are followed, it is safe.
WHERE IS BIOMETRIC SECURITY USED?
Biometric security is largely used in banks, airports, retail stores, law enforcement, and medical centers.
HOW CAN BIOMETRIC SECURITY BE COMPROMISED?
Biometric security can be compromised if hackers breach a biometric information database.
WHY IS BIOMETRIC SECURITY SO DIFFICULT TO DEFEAT?
Biometric security systems rely on the analysis of many data points, and often they come with anti-spoofing technology built in.
WHAT ARE BIOMETRIC SECURITY DEVICES?
Biometric security devices are scanners or cameras that capture physical features to be analyzed and authenticated.
HOW CAN BIOMETRIC SECURITY BE IMPROVED?
Organizations can keep biometric data safe by using multi-factor authentication, anti-spoofing software, and strong internal passwords.
Rapid technological development has given rise to cybercrimes. More often than not, criminals use technology in planning and committing other kinds of crime. Computers, smartphones, flash drives, and cloud data storage are among many types of devices that keep digital evidence. Not only do cybercrime specialists have to know how to collect and analyze data, but they also have to comprehend the legal basis of using this data in the judicial process. Read on to find out about digital forensics in 2020—2021.
Digital forensics is a forensic science branch that involves the recovery, analysis, and preservation of any information found on digital devices; this forensics branch often concerns cybercrimes. The term “digital forensics” was originally used as a synonym for computer forensics but has now expanded to cover the analysis of information on all devices that can store digital data.
Digital forensics experts react to incidents like server hacks or leaks of sensitive information. Their specialized forensic toolkits help them investigate incidents, analyze traffic, and look for hidden data and other evidence. They collect, recover, and store the data relevant for the investigation and prepare and present it in court.
Depending on the type of information and its sources, digital forensics has branches and requires specific professional training that gives excellent career prospects and exciting occupations.
WHAT IS DIGITAL FORENSICS? MEANING & DEFINITION
Digital forensics originated from the umbrella term of computer forensics. Now it is a separate applied discipline focused on solving computer-related crimes, the investigation of digital evidence, and methods of finding, obtaining, and securing such evidence. Digital forensics deals with any data found on digital devices.
In the first chapter, Understanding Digital Forensics, of Jason Stachowski’s book, Implementing Forensic Readiness, there is a historical overview of how the discipline emerged and evolved as well as a comprehensive explanation of the meaning and definition of this branch of forensic science.
For the last fifty years, digital forensics has evolved from unstructured activities of main hobbyists into a well-organized, registered applied discipline, which identifies, examines, and
preserves all possible data on digital devices. Digital forensics analysis is required by both law enforcement and businesses and can be used in and outside of court.
BRIEF DIGITAL FORENSICS HISTORY OVERVIEW
- In the 1970s, the United States introduced the 1978 Florida Computer Crimes Act, which was based on legislation against unauthorized alteration or deleting data in a computer system;
- 1983 was marked by Canada passing legislation in the field of cybercrimes and computer forensics;
- In 1985, Britain created a computer crime department;
- In 1989, cybercrimes were added to the official list of crimes in Australia;
- The 1990 Britain’s Computer Misuse Act made digital forensics well-recognized all over the world;
- In 1992, Collier and Spaul used the term “computer forensics” in an academic paper;
- In 2001, Britain created the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit;
- In 2004, 43 countries signed The Convention of Cybercrime;
- 2005 was marked by the appearance of an ISO standard for digital forensics.
At present, many scholars and specialists in digital forensics raise awareness of the issues the field is facing due to the rapid development of technologies.
WHAT DOES A DIGITAL FORENSICS SPECIALIST DO?
Digital forensic specialists play an important role in the process of investigation of cybercrimes. Mostly, they deal with the retrieval of data that was encrypted, deleted, or hidden. The tasks also include ensuring the integrity of the information that is to be used in court. At different stages of the investigation, computer forensics analysts may take part in interrogating suspects, victims, and witnesses. They also help prepare evidence to be represented in court.
Private companies cooperate with digital forensic specialists as well. Their expertise is also required in personal and network security, the defense sector, large-scale financial institutions, and information technology companies.
WHAT IS DIGITAL FORENSICS FOR?
The main application of forensics is the analysis and investigation of events that include computer information as an object of an attack, a computer as a tool of committing a crime, and collecting, storing, and protecting any digital evidence. The results of the expert analysis are used to either support or negate a hypothesis in court.
Digital forensics specialists may be involved in investigating both civil and criminal cases.
- In civil cases, any digital evidence is used to settle disputes between private persons
- Criminal cases imply investigations of breaking the law. Digital forensics experts may
help investigate any criminal case if any digital data is found and represented as
Private sector companies hire digital forensics analysts to prevent or investigate cyberattacks, security breaches, data leaks, or cyber threats. Many companies have their departments of information and cybersecurity. In many cases, computer forensics specialists deal with restoring lost data and protecting sensitive or classified information.
WHAT ARE THE PURPOSES OF DIGITAL FORENSICS?
Digital forensics ensures and supports cybersecurity in the private sector and assists law enforcement in investigating criminal cases. The fast-paced development and implementation of new technologies in all areas of human activity require training computer experts to deal with specific objectives. These objectives include:
- Facilitating the recovery, analysis, and preservation of the data and helping prepare digital evidence for court representation;
- Ensuring all the necessary protocols of gathering evidence as the digital evidence
must not be corrupted;
- Recovering any deleted or hidden data from any digital devices if the data is
particularly significant for the case;
- Helping identify a suspect and establishing a motive for a crime;
- Producing a computer forensic report that prompts the investigation;
- Ensuring digital evidence integrity.
DIGITAL FORENSIC PROCESS
Like any other branch of applied science, digital forensics has its protocols and a structured process. It can be divided into five stages: identifying, preserving, analyzing, documenting, and representing steps.
The first stage implies the identification of investigation goals and required resources. The analysts also identify the evidence, the type of data they deal with, and the devices the data is stored on. Digital forensics specialists work with all kinds of electronic storage devices: hard drives, mobile phones, personal computers, tablets, etc.
At this stage, analysts ensure that the data is isolated and preserved. Usually, it means that no one can use the device until the end of the investigation, so the evidence remains secure.
The analysis stage includes a deep systematic search for any relevant evidence. The specialists work with both system and user files and data objects. Based on the found evidence, the analysts draw conclusions.
At this stage, all the found relevant evidence is documented. It helps to extend the crime scene and prompts investigation. Any digital evidence is recorded together with the photos, sketches, and crime scene mapping.
At the final stage, all evidence and conclusions are reported according to forensics protocols, which include the methodologies and procedures of the analysis and their explanation.
WHAT TOOLS ARE USED FOR DIGITAL FORENSICS?
At the early stages of digital forensics development, the specialists had a very limited choice of tools used to analyze digital evidence. It led to multiple allegations that such analysis might have caused evidence to be altered and corrupted. Inevitably, there emerged sophisticated tools designed specifically for digital forensics analysis.
- Disk and data capture tools can detect encrypted data and capture and preview the information on physical drives;
- File viewers and file analysis tools work to extract and analyze separate files;
- Registry analysis tools get the information about a user and their activities from the Windows registry;
- Internet and network analysis tools provide detailed information about traffic and monitor user’s activity on the Internet;
- Email analysis tools are designed to scan email content;
- Mobile device analysis tools help extract data from the internal and external memory of mobile devices;
- Mac OS analysis tools retrieve metadata from Mac operating systems and provide disk imaging;
- Database forensics tools can analyze and manipulate data and provide reports of activities performed.
TYPES OF DIGITAL EVIDENCES
Digital evidence is any sort of data stored and collected from any electronic storage device. Digital evidence can also be retrieved from wireless networks and random-access memory. There are many types of electronic evidence and methodologies of their retrieval, storage, and analysis. The types of electronic evidence include but are not limited to the following examples:
- Media files (photo, video, audio);
- User account data (usernames, passwords, avatars);
- Emails (content, senders’ and receivers’ information, attachments);
- Web browser history;
- Phone calls (video, audio);
- Accounting program files;
- Windows registry system files;
- RAM system files;
- Any type of digital files (text files, spreadsheets, PDF files, bookmarks, etc.);
- Records from networking devices;
- ATM transaction logs;
- GPS logs;
- Electronic door logs;
- CCTV cameras records;
- Hidden and encrypted data;
- Printer, fax, and copy machine logs;
- Computer backups.
WHAT ARE DIFFERENT TYPES AND BRANCHES OF DIGITAL FORENSICS?
Digital forensics is a fast-growing scientific discipline. It evolves in response to the tremendous development of technology. At the current stage, digital forensics has its branches specializing in narrow fields.
Computer forensics provides the collection, identification, preservation, and analysis of data from personal computers, laptops, and storage computing devices.
Specialists in computer forensics are mostly involved in investigations of computer crimes, but their services are often needed in civil cases and the process of data recovery.
MOBILE DEVICE FORENSICS
Specialists in this branch can retrieve data from smartphones, SIM cards, mobile phones, GPS devices, tablets, PDAs, and game consoles.
This type of analysis is required to retrieve audio and visual data, contacts, and call logs from the devices presented in court as evidence.
Network forensics aims to monitor, register, and analyze any network activity.
The network specialists analyze traffic and activity in case of security breaches, cyberattacks, and other incidents in cyberspace.
FORENSIC DATA ANALYSIS
This branch of forensics analyzes structured data.
The data analysts are mainly involved in investigating financial crimes and fraud.
Database forensic specialists investigate any access to a database and report any changes made in the data.
Database forensics can be used to verify commercial contracts and to investigate large-scale financial crimes.
Email forensics analysts retrieve relevant data from email. This information can be the senders’ and receivers’ identities, the content of the messages, time stamps, sources, and metadata.
Email forensics tools are widely used when a company is suspected of email forgery.
The specialists in this branch detect, analyze, and investigate different malware types to trace suspects and reasons for the attack. They also evaluate the damage caused by the attack and determine the code of the malware.
This type of digital forensics is also called live acquisition. It retrieves the data from RAM. The recent development in cybercrime technology enables hackers to leave no traces on hard drives. In such cases, memory forensics helps to track down the attack.
Wireless forensics uses specific tools and methodologies to analyze and investigate traffic in a wireless environment.
This type of analysis is crucial when computer crimes or cyberattacks are committed through the breach of security protocols in wireless networks.
Specialists in disk forensics retrieve and recover data from hard drives and other physical storage devices, such as memory cards, servers, flash drives, and external USB sticks.
Disk forensics analysts make sure any data relevant to the case is recovered, analyzed, and presented as evidence.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN DIGITAL FORENSICS?
Digital forensics experts use forensic tools to collect evidence against criminals, and criminals use the same tools to conceal, modify, or remove traces of their criminal activity. It is known as the anti-forensics technique and is considered one of the key issues digital forensics faces. This branch of forensic science also deals with certain legal, technical, and resource challenges.
RAPID TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT
As an example, there are currently eight different operating systems for mobile devices, and their versions are regularly updated. It makes it challenging to develop standard methods of digital forensic analysis.
PC’s, mobile phones, tablets, game consoles, GPS devices, and other types of electronic devices are no longer a luxury for the average person.
AVAILABILITY OF HACKING TOOLS
The Internet contains information, how-to’s, software, and tools for hackers. Anybody can get access to this type of resource effortlessly.
BIG DATA ERA
Terabytes of information can now be found even on personal hard drives. Excessive volumes of data make its analysis and preservation a challenging issue.
The procedure of preserving and presenting electronic evidence is a complex process. It leads to some evidence being rejected by the court.
HOW CAN BIOMETRICS HELP IN DIGITAL FORENSICS?
With a high rate of cyber crimes and sophisticated types of fraud, biometrics becomes a necessity. The article Biometrics in Forensic Identification: Applications and Challenges, published in the Journal of Forensic Medicine, discusses possible ways biometrics can be used in digital forensics. In particular, the paper names the benefits of using biometric aspects like fingerprints and palm prints, facial and voice recognition, handwriting, odor, keystroke biometrics, iris scans, and DNA analysis. Read more about biometric types here.
HOW CAN YOU GET INTO A DIGITAL FORENSICS CAREER?
To become a digital forensics specialist, a candidate should have a solid background in informatics, programming, or computer science. Many analysts start their careers in the IT sector as sysadmins or similar positions. They are already familiar with some electronic forensic tools or, at least, with these tools’ principles and functionality. However, digital forensics has different specialized objectives, and working in this branch of forensics requires special training. There are a few options to get both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in terms of academic training — and it can be done both on-site and online.
- The School of Business and Justice Studies at Utica College has specializations in
cybercrime investigations and forensics as part of the Cybersecurity and Information
Assurance Bachelor’s degree;
- Champlain College offers an online Computer Forensics & Digital Investigations
Bachelor’s degree program;
- Purdue University’s Cybersecurity and Forensics Lab provides a Master’s degree in
- The University of Maryland offers a Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation Master’s
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice has a Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity Master’s
WHAT JOB CAN YOU GET IN DIGITAL FORENSICS?
Most of the jobs for digital forensics specialists can be found in the public sector. Apart from apparent positions in law enforcement and governmental agencies, there are also jobs offered in the private sector — private IT companies, public agencies, financial organizations, and many others. One can say that specialists in the field play two key roles. They either prevent possible cybercrimes and ensure cybersecurity, or they are involved in investigations of the crimes already committed. Depending on the academic degree, skills, experience, and seniority, there are different roles available in digital forensics.
- Computer forensic investigator;
- Digital forensic investigator;
- Computer expertise technician;
- Information security analyst;
- Digital forensics analyst;
- Digital/computer forensics engineer;
- Information systems security analyst;
- Forensic computer analyst;
- Cybersecurity consultant;
- Computer/digital forensic technician.
Under current circumstances, a career in the field of digital forensics has good prospects. Job search engines like Glassdoor, Payscale, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics have impressive salary projections for digital forensics jobs. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the growth in demand for this profession.
WHAT SKILLS ARE REQUIRED FOR A CAREER IN DIGITAL FORENSICS?
As was mentioned before, electronic forensic analysis involves the proper processing of all digital data related to a criminal case. To do this successfully, a future digital forensic analyst requires the following skillset.
- Good Technical Skills
For obvious reasons, good technical skills are highly required for a career in digital forensics. It may be prior experience in programming, cloud computation systems, networks, or working with hardware. It is a solid foundation of the profession.
- Strong Analytical Skills
It is not enough to only be able to retrieve, recover, and preserve data. A large part of a digital forensic specialist’s daily routine is analyzing the data and drawing conclusions to help solve cases.
- Deep Understanding of Cybersecurity
Although most computer forensic analysts work to help solve the crimes that have already been committed, it is essential to understand how and why this happens.
- Excellent Communication Skills
Digitals forensics specialists are always a part of a bigger team of investigators, police officers, and other analysts. Communication ensures the success of the entire investigation.
- Quick Learner
Technology is developing rapidly. Analysts have to be able to digest massive amounts of information daily to stay up-to-date with the latest threads.
- Digital forensics plays an essential part in diverse human activity areas in both the
public and private sectors;
- Digital forensics focuses on the investigation of digital evidence and methods of
finding, obtaining, and securing such evidence;
- For the past fifty years, digital forensics has come a long way from an unstructured
activity to a regulated applied science;
- Digital forensics has different branches according to the types of devices that data
analysts focus on;
- Each branch has a specialized set of tools that works with different types of evidence;
- Digital forensics analysts assist law enforcement in solving crimes. This is done while
following a particular set of rules and specific protocols;
- Digital forensics specialists are also actively hired by private companies and
individuals to ensure cybersecurity;
- Formal professional training opens plenty of employment opportunities in both the
public and private sectors, which makes this profession a good choice for people with
required technical and analytical skills.
DIGITAL FORENSICS FAQ
HOW DOES DIGITAL FORENSICS WORK?
Digital forensics specialists are involved in the investigation of computer-related crimes. They collect, recover, store, and preserve data relevant to the investigation. They also perform an in-depth analysis of the data and prepare it as evidence presented in court.
WHY IS DIGITAL FORENSICS IMPORTANT?
The number of cybercrimes increases every year. They may cause tremendous damage. And investigation of these crimes requires special training and skills. Digital forensics experts also work in the private sector’s cybersecurity teams to prevent cybercrimes.
IS DIGITAL FORENSICS A GOOD CAREER?
It is a solid career with good salary prospects and a predicted increase in demand for labor markets worldwide.
WHAT ARE DIGITAL FORENSICS TOOLS?
Digital forensics tools can be divided into several types and include:
- Disk and data capture tools;
- File viewers and file analysis tools;
- Registry analysis tools;
- Internet and network analysis tools;
- Email analysis tools;
- Mobile devices analysis tools;
- Mac OS analysis tools;
- Database forensics tools.
WHAT IS DIGITAL FORENSICS USED FOR?
Digital forensics specialists prevent possible cybercrimes to ensure cybersecurity in the private sector, or they are involved in investigations of the crimes already committed. In the latter case, they work closely with law enforcement and governmental agencies.
WHO BENEFITS FROM DIGITAL FORENSICS?
It is beneficial for both the public and private sectors. Digital forensics experts work not only with law enforcement but also with private companies and individuals.
HOW IS DIGITAL FORENSICS DIFFERENT FROM DIGITAL RECOVERY?
Digital recovery is only one possible objective of digital forensics specialists. They also perform an in-depth analysis of recovered data and actively participate in crime investigations.
About ALERT TECHNOLOGY
In most retail stores nowadays, there are clear signs that state that shoplifters will be prosecuted and that the shop is monitored with cameras. Yet, despite these anti-theft measures, billions of potential profits are lost each year due to shoplifting. Read on to learn about shoplifting stats from recent years and what the effects are.
SHOPLIFTING FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW FIRST
Before diving into detailed shoplifting statistics, there are a few key pieces of info that you should know. We’ve pulled some crucial facts from Loss Prevention Media:
- It is commonly touted that men are more likely to shoplift than women – however, this is based on data from 1980 and may be outdated.
- Approximately 1 out of 11 people in the US are shoplifters.
- ¼ of shoplifters are children.
- 55% of shoplifters began shoplifting when they were teenagers.
- Nearly ¾ of shoplifters have said they don’t plan to steal ahead of time.
- 89% of children know other children who shoplift – and 66% of respondents say they hang out with those juvenile shoplifters.
- Shoplifters are caught once out of every 48 times they steal – and, when they are caught, they are arrested 50% of the time.
- “Professionals” make up only 3% of shoplifters – but this group is responsible for 10% (or more) of all profit loss from theft.
SHOPLIFTING STATS FOR 2019—2020
Shoplifting is the most common crime in the US – as aforementioned, 1 out of 11 Americans are shoplifters. The amount of stolen goods and the percentage of shoplifters grows each year. What’s more, the percentage of shoplifters is growing worldwide. For more information on how to stop shoplifting in its tracks, read our article on the matter.
SHOPLIFTING STATS: USA
Over the last few years, professionals in the Loss Prevention sphere have stated that shoplifting is the #1 contributor to product shrinkage. Some of the reasons cited for the rise in shoplifting include:
- A higher level of organized retail crime
- Felony threshold levels have been raised
- There is overall less staff on the salesfloor
- A shift in attitude towards shoplifting as a low-risk, high-reward activity
In Hayes International’s 32nd Annual Retail Theft Survey, it has released estimations on the number of shoplifting incidents and the amount of directly correlated profit loss.
|Time Frame||Profit Lost||Incidents|
|Annually||Up to $20 billion||Up to 400 million|
|Daily||Up to $55 million||Up to 1 million|
|Per Hour||Up to $2.3 million||Up to 45,000|
|Per Minute||Up to $38,000||Up to 750|
Also, the survey contained statistics on apprehensions (apprehended shoplifters), dollars recovered with and without apprehension, and case value.
Apprehensions: 315,095 shoplifters were apprehended in 2019, which is a 3% increase from the previous year.
Recoveries: Over $90 million was recovered from shoplifting apprehensions in 2019, which is 3.5% higher than in 2018. The money recovered without apprehensions was more than $176 million, which is 11% higher than in 2018.
Case Value: 2019’s average shoplifting case value was $288.71, which was 0.5% higher than 2018.
|Recovery With Apprehensions||$87,896,534||$90,971,116||$3,074,582||3.50%|
|Recoveries w/o Apprehensions
(No Apprehensions Made)
|Average Case Value||$287.42||$288.71||$1.29||0.45%|
THE MOST SHOPLIFTED ITEMS
Check the table below for a look at the most shoplifted items across various retailers.
|Fashion Apparel and Accessories||Jewelry, sunglasses, shoes, sports clothing|
|Home Improvement||Batteries, plants, power tools, building supplies|
|Electronics||Video games, laptops, DVDs, iPads, phones & phone accessories|
|Food and Drink Products||Alcohol, meat, cheese, coffee, baby formula|
|Beauty and Health||Makeup, perfume, over-the-counter drugs, razors, electric toothbrushes|
JUVENILE SHOPLIFTING STATS AND FACTS
As mentioned in our facts section, approximately 55% of shoplifters began stealing when they were teenagers. Nowadays, it is estimated that 25% of shoplifters are juvenile – and that the consequences of juvenile shoplifting can carry over well into adulthood.
However, it has also been found that juveniles are not stealing things that are necessary for survival; instead, they are more likely to shoplift luxury goods. 68% of juvenile shoplifters do it for the adrenaline boost and the “kicks” rather than for financial motivators.
Juvenile delinquents have a much harder time finding legitimate employment when they become adults – thus, juvenile shoplifting is highly significant and cannot be shrugged off as just “teenage rebellion.”
SHOPLIFTING STATS BY NRF
The NRF (National Retail Federation) works with law enforcement, government agencies, and retail LP professionals to protect retailers from theft. We’ve compiled some relevant statistics on 2019 shoplifting that the NRF released. Check here to read the full survey.
- 44% of shoplifters surveyed said that they would be deterred from theft if employees paid closer attention to them.
- 20% of known shoplifters visited at least three locations of a retail chain.
- The average product shrink rate for 2019 was 1.33%.
- Inventory shrinkage had a cost of $46.8 billion in the US retail industry.
- 71.3% of retailers reported an increase in organized retail crime in comparison to the previous year.
If you are interested in reading the 2018 survey and comparing its results to 2019, you can check it out here.
RETAIL THEFT IN THE NEWS
How has COVID-19 factored into retail theft? While there is no hard data on the subject currently, some retailers are reporting that they have experienced shoplifting surges in recent months. Retailers were already struggling financially because of the pandemic, and reported increases in shoplifting have only made that worse.
One report from ABC 6 stated that convenience store owners in Philadelphia are experiencing increased shoplifting – and that this is mainly due to the city’s subpar law enforcement.
Some retailers are facing fewer incidents of shoplifting but higher theft values. In the Los Angeles area market, retailers have found that the average value of each shoplifting incident has increased by 23%.
SHOPLIFTING STATS: UK
According to the Retail Gazette, the UK experienced a large amount of shoplifting crime in 2019. An analysis of 2019’s police data found that 359,156 shoplifting incidents were recorded in the UK – this is nearly 1,000 per day.
Overall, the amount of shoplifting in the UK was 3% lower in 2019 than in 218. However, 17 out of 45 UK police forces recorded heightened numbers of incidents. Thus, certain areas, such as Sussex, were hit harder in 2019. Sussex, in fact, handled 14% more incidents than in the previous year. Stores in Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, Kent, and Hertfordshire were also targeted by shoplifters more frequently.
SHOPLIFTING STATS: AUSTRALIA
The Australia and New Zealand Retail Crime Survey for 2019 reported that shoplifting cost the retail industry $3.37 billion. When compared to a similar survey conducted in 2015, theft was up by 18%. The 2019 study found that 57% of all theft and loss was due to thieving customers, 22% was due to employees, and 6% was involved with supplier fraud. The remaining 15% of the loss was not related to crime.
Shoplifting is on the rise across the globe – and, if security measures are not enforced more consistently, this figure will only increase. For information on how to reduce shrinkage in your store and industry, check out our other articles on the matter; we’ll present actionable solutions for making your storefront more secure.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF SHOPLIFTERS ARE CAUGHT?
DO STORES TRACK DOWN SHOPLIFTERS?
CAN POLICE TRACK YOU DOWN BY CAMERA FOR SHOPLIFTING?
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF SHOPLIFTING?
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE ANNUAL PROFIT LOSS TO SHOPLIFTING?
HOW OFTEN DO SHOPLIFTERS GET PROSECUTED?
Only about half of caught shoplifters are turned over to the police for prosecution.