Looking back to move forward
2nd April 2013
As we return to work after the Easter break it’s a great time to reflect on the first few months of 2013. It’s proving to be an exciting year for TDSi, having already exhibited at Intersec Dubai in January and IFSEC West Africa in March along with the launch of our new stand-alone keypad.
We’re currently gearing up for our next appearance at IFSEC 2013 (13th-16th May), which is in many ways the key event for the security community in the UK and in many cases well beyond as well! Walking around the event, which is at the Birmingham NEC again this year, it always strikes me what an increasingly diverse and interesting sector it is that we work in. Security is all around us in our daily lives, from the places we work to the shops and attractions we visit or the ways in which we travel. IFSEC brings together the best and brightest players in the security industry, and whilst there is undoubtedly an excitement at seeing the latest technology and innovations I always like to check out what the competition is doing and to get a chance to talk to companies that provide technology which could complement our own.
TDSi is a proud founding member of the Harmony Alliance, and as is often the case with such partnerships, there are huge benefits to be had not only for ourselves as partners but also for end users that are (now more than ever) looking to get the best solutions they can for their money. Of course we equally enjoy showing off TDSi’s latest products and services, meeting people who have very real security needs and looking at the ways security systems can protect and serve real organisations and real people. We’ll be talking more about the show and TDSi’s involvement in the next blog, but what I do believe is that IFSEC is a superb show for anyone interested in security!
It would seem that 2013 is proving to be the year that everyone is talking about Near Field Communications (NFC), with the security press getting very excited about this up and coming technology. For those that are unfamiliar with the term, NFC is a technology that is increasingly being implemented in smartphones and enables them to directly interact with other devices that use it. In some ways this makes NFC sound rather vague, but it is this flexible nature that makes it an exciting technology and is why the access control sector should be adopting it as a good user-friendly method of authentication. Interestingly, Google recently internally trialled an NFC-based replacement for passwords called YubiKey on its smartphones, believing that passwords no longer offer sufficient enough protection. The YubiKey system still uses a token for authentication (although the smartphone provides the reader) so I’m not sure it will directly impact the access control sector dramatically (cheap and effective tokens such as MIFARE cards are already common place) but it is a noteworthy illustration of how NFC is already catching the attention of large security-focussed organisations.
NFC is probably of more interest for the access control sector in conjunction with facial recognition technology, which smartphones are already starting to use to grant users access to their device. Facial recognition readers scan the unique shape of the human face and are highly reliable at proving identity and granting secure access. There are some great advantages to be had from using facial recognition. Obviously not having to carry a token (a card or fob) makes life much easier, as does not having to remember passwords which can be stolen anyway if users aren’t careful. Of course putting the emphasis on authentication on the smartphone also opens up a huge degree of creativity in the way identity is approved only limited by the evolution of the smartphone and its software. After all, a new security app is much easier and more cost effective to develop than hardware and can more easily evolve. It doesn’t even have to be limited to biometric checks; you could easily use any type of smartphone-enabled security. It could be a pattern recognition application (where you remember a sequence) or even a set of user-only knowledge based questions, similar to those used to authenticate online banking that many of us use. By taking the onus off the access control and security systems for authentication, NFC could well offer a whole new branch of secure access which benefits everyone.
One of the most important new bits of UK security legislation is coming into force from 1st September this year. The forthcoming Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 adds new legislation to the Data Protection Act 1998 on holding personal data - which is especially relevant to the installation of biometric authentication systems. Essentially the new legislation means that users can object to their biometric data being stored and puts a question mark over whether these systems can actually be used to fully replace cards and PIN codes (which of course only hold limited information on the user). There has been some discourse amongst the access control fraternity as to what this could mean, but at TDSi we know the solution is clear multi-format readers of course! We have been providing our own DIGIgarde PLUS multi-format readers (which offer biometrics and PIN/card authentication) for some time now and they are a perfect solution to the dilemma. Those that want to make the most of the convenience and ease-of-use of biometrics (such as fingerprints for example) can do so whilst there is a good alternative for anyone who would rather avoid having their biometric data stored. It’s an elegant yet simple solution and allows organisations to embrace the new legislation whilst offering great flexibility and choice. We should never forget that good legislation is in place to protect everyone’s rights and to enhance security, something which we very much support as a security provider and as individual users ourselves.