02:54 PM

BlackBerrys Can Replace Eyeballs For Security Scans

Secure biometrics via BlackBerry, anyone? NFC-equipped BlackBerries can stand in for your eyeball when using Iris ID Systems' IrisAccess platform.

Eyeballs? Who needs eyeballs?!? Not BlackBerry users. Research In Motion recently revealed that select BlackBerry smartphones can be used with Iris ID Systems' IrisAccess platform for identity/user authentication.

The system requires a number of pieces to work properly, but the result will let some smartphone users tap their BlackBerry to a scanner rather than flash their baby blues to gain entry to secure facilities and restricted areas.

To start, the set-up requires a Blackberry Bold 9900/9930 smartphone. This device has both the BlackBerry 7 platform and near-field communications hardware needed to function properly. The Blackberry will be used to store the iris template of the owner. The template is secured on the device by HID Global's iCLASS digital credentials.

Together, this NFC-equipped BlackBerry and secure iris ID file will be compatible with existing iCLASS readers that are embedded in the iCAM 7000 series. Rather than supplying an eyeball or a separate NFC-card with the iris template on board, BlackBerry owners can use their smartphone to serve as their work or government ID. It can be used to grant physical access to systems in buildings, as well as with applications that track time, attendance, and other actions that depend on identity.

"Having added NFC capabilities to a range of our BlackBerry 7 smartphones, we're excited to be able to support the secure storage of an Iris ID biometric template to an iCLASS credential, said Andrew Bocking, VP of handheld software product management at RIM. The company has been quicker than most to adopt NFC technology in its smartphones.

"NFC enables smartphones to become even smarter mobile computing platforms, and this is another great example that demonstrates the potential that NFC on mobile devices brings to the physical access control space," said Bocking.

Providing employee with an easy way to authenticate their identity by using a device they're already carrying is certainly convenient. It means there is one less thing to worry about grabbing on the way out the door first thing in the morning.

RIM, HID Global, and Iris ID Systems will trial the technology in the coming months, and expect to deploy the system later this year.

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Andrew Hornback
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2012 | 12:01:18 AM
re: BlackBerrys Can Replace Eyeballs For Security Scans
"Providing employee with an easy way to authenticate their identity by using a device they're already carrying is certainly convenient. It means there is one less thing to worry about grabbing on the way out the door first thing in the morning."

Last time I looked, most employees were carrying around a pair of devices that could be used in this form of biometric authentication that they didn't have to worry about grabbing on the way out the door first thing in the morning. But, with this device, what happens when you misplace, lose or end up having your Blackberry stolen?

That aside, I'd have to seriously worry about having something like this around - how secure are the Blackberries that are going to be used in this system? Is RIM willing to definatively say that there's no way of stealing the biometric data off of these devices, replicating them and essentially negating the organization's investment in this system?

Something that I've always held to is that no matter what the data represents, once it's in digital form, someone out there will find a way to steal it or copy it.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
User Rank: Apprentice
3/29/2012 | 2:53:23 AM
re: BlackBerrys Can Replace Eyeballs For Security Scans
That is a good point Andrew, especially since we know phones can be easily lost or stolen. The security story RIM tells around this as part of their pitch to users will have to be pretty convincing I think before there is serious uptake in my opinion.
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator
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