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With the threat of cybercrime, companies are increasingly relying on biometrics for authentication as part of their security protocols. Thanks to their proven capabilities, authentication modes such as fingerprint or retina scans and facial recognition are being integrated into the security infrastructures of various organizations.

Biometric security can help prevent various forms of fraud which is vital with the increasing sophistication in the methods of cybercrime.

In the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report, a total of $151,568,225 in losses were incurred from corporate data breaches. These numbers are derived only from reported incidents, and are far more likely in reality.

Fortunately, biometric security can prevent various threats and be seamlessly applied to any organization. However, there are several factors to consider if you want to address biometric issues and concerns when acquiring biometric authentication solutions.

Data Privacy Laws All Organizations Must Know

Laws regarding data privacy can vary depending on the state, but the United States also has several federal laws. The applicable regulation and policies will depend on your industry.

1. Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA)

The GLBA requires financial companies to inform customers how they obtain and share their information. The act covers companies offering loans, investments, financial advice, or insurance. Violators can face fines or imprisonment.

2. Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA protects patients’ medical information. This act applies to hospitals, medical practitioners, and healthcare and insurance providers. They can use medical information for recommending treatment and facilitating payment but not for marketing purposes. Violators may potentially face criminal or civil monetary charges.

3. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

COPPA guards the online information of children under 13 years old. Websites, apps, and other online services must abide by the act and have a clear privacy policy on collecting, using, and sharing data.

In addition, the policy must get a parent’s consent before the child uses the service. According to the law, those who disobey the guidelines can face up to $46,517 in fines per violation.

4. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

The federal law FRCA oversees credit reporting agencies and charges them to safeguard a customer’s credit history and information.

The act covers banks, insurance companies, employers, landlords, or anyone who needs to look at consumers’ credit scores. They must ensure that the information they have and share is accurate to prevent misinformation. A customer can sue a violator for damages in a state or federal court.

5. Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)

The DPPA restricts those who have access to the information given to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), including those working for them.

They cannot share personal information, such as their picture, Social Security number, address, and phone number. An example is trying to get someone’s personal information by looking up their license plate. According to the law, any person who violates the DPPA will face fines.

Key Considerations When Collecting and Handling Biometric Data

When implementing biometric security for your company, there are several considerations. Federal compliance aside, adopting a biometric system may mean new processes and other changes. Examining these factors will make integration much smoother.

1. Type of system

There are different biometric systems including fingerprint scanners, retinal scanners, and facial scanners. Assess your options in detail so you pick one that will suit your company perfectly. For instance, hospitals use facial recognition software to identify people’s body temperatures. Other companies commonly use fingerprint readers for attendance tracking.

2. Use and disclosure of data

All privacy laws require companies to inform employees of the system’s full scope and how data collection works. Giving the full details will bolster your employees’ trust and allow them to opt out of data collection.

3. Purpose of data collection

The law also requires that you inform your employees why you’re collecting their biometrics—the purpose ties in with the type of system and your industry.

4. Data security and protection measures

You need a secure place to store all the data and examine the measures you have to protect the data.

Do you have firewalls to stop hackers? Is the data stored in a single server or spread through different devices? A single server is easier to protect but carries the risk of a significant data breach. Multiple devices will minimize the risk but can be lost or stolen more easily.

5. Demographic biases

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revealed that several facial scanners had demographic biases. It found that people of Asian and African-American descent had high false positive rates, meaning that the system recognized two different people as the same person.

When looking for a system to implement, ensure it is advanced enough to prevent false positives or negatives.

6. Other ways to access private information

Consider the possibility that your system may not be enough to keep hackers out. For example, a fingerprint scanner may keep intruders out of the office, but does the employee’s equipment have the same security features to keep other sensitive data safe?

Assess your existing protocols and see if you need more than one type of system, especially if you’re handling both employee and client data.

7. Indemnification plan in case of a breach

See if the company providing the biometrics system will indemnify your company in case of a breach and compensate you for the losses. The agreement and wording may differ from service to service, so speak to your lawyer for advice. Aside from negotiating the compensation amount, you can also discuss sole liability by the vendor.

 7 Tips to Know When Implementing a Biometric Security System

Once you’ve made your considerations and chosen your security system, it’s time for implementation. Here are some tips to help keep your company compliant and make the shift easier.

1. Check all applicable laws first

Before implementing the system, check if your company complies with all applicable data privacy laws for your industry and location. Different states have different rules in addition to federal regulations, so ensure that you are not violating any of them.

2. Ensure all employees are informed

After ensuring that your company complies with the laws, notify all your employees about your plan to adopt a biometric security system. You can do this via a company-wide meeting or an email blast. State the type of system and how you’ll use the data. Failure to inform your employees can be a violation of the law.

3. Always acquire consent before data collection

Aside from informing the people concerned, you must also get their approval through written forms before collecting data. Written records prove that the employee understands the biometrics system’s implications and consents to have their data collected. Additionally, you can use these in the event of a lawsuit.

4. Create a comprehensive privacy policy

Have processes to ensure that the data is stored securely and who has permission to share the information. Inform your employees how much information they can share, the authorized personnel who can access the data, and whom they can contact for any concerns.

5. Develop a response plan to prepare for a sudden breach

No biometrics system is perfect, and there’s always a risk of a breach. Have a plan in case this happens and inform your workers. Data breaches can cause serious harm. Your organization could lose your reputation and the trust you built among workers and clients.

Discuss with your IT team what to do in a worst-case scenario and to whom you need to report the incident.

6. Have backup access tools for employees

Some employees may opt out of having their biometrics collected or suffer from disabilities that prevent them from participating. In this case, have backup access tools like IDs they can scan or equipment with two-factor authentication.

7. Make sure the system suits your climate

Your system’s effectiveness is affected by your location’s climate. Extreme temperatures can cause electronics in the system to fail, while tiny particles in dusty or sandy environments can get into the components and damage equipment.

Protect Your Company

A biometric security system is very useful in preventing losses from identity theft and breaches. But as you acquire and integrate biometric security systems into your company, make sure that you’re abiding by data privacy laws. Proper implementation won’t just deter the possibility of a crippling cyberattack but from possible lawsuits as well. 

Planning to boost your security infrastructure with biometrics? For more information about biometric authentication solutions, make sure to consult with our experts at Q5id.

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