Cloud Authentication Month: Biometrics as a Service

To bring a close to Cloud Authentication Month we are going to look at the exciting world of biometrics technology through the lens of a service model.

With the emergence of cloud technology thanks to the rise of mass connectivity, service models have become popular for everything from data storage, to design software and even recently to home console gaming. Security has not been excluded from this wave of flexibility that has passed through the IT world, and now enterprises looking to tighten up the protection of critical data and operations can apply the service model to biometric solutions.

Software as a Service

iStock_Multi-Modal-300x225Despite the specific distinction, BaaS is still Software as a Service. Inseparable from cloud computing, all SaaS variations have certain things in common: they are licensed on a subscription basis, they are centrally hosted by the service provider and they are incredibly popular with enterprise markets.

In 2011 Gartner published a report predicting that the worldwide SaaS revenue will reach 21.3 billion by the end of 2015. In the subsequent 2012 update it held strong to that estimate.

So why all the popularity? Well, it comes down to a very strong motivator in modern business, especially among the small to medium level enterprises (SMEs): administrative and IT costs. Having SaaS doesn’t just save a company on having to store software on its own servers and keep it up to date, it also means that the maintenance and troubleshooting is outsourced.

The Cost of Doing Business

Of course, when it comes to biometrics, cost is an especially large implementation obstacle. Depending on the scale of deployment and the modality of choice, making the jump to biometric security can be an expensive commitment for a company wanting to lock things up.

With Biometrics as a Service solutions, enterprises go through a web based platform in order to securely authenticate using a supported biometric technology. The amount of flexibility that this provides a customer is impressive. If the SME has the capital to invest in or already owns biometric hardware, it can use, say, fingerprint or palm vein security factors. If the company only has standard IT hardware, like monitors with webcams and microphones then facial and voice biometric software can do the trick.

Additionally, if the SME investing in a biometric service license has a BYOD policy (and it should by now), there are cloud based BaaS options that can bring strong authentication to the mobile sphere.

Flexibility Factors

Where BaaS really sets itself apart is with flexibility. In the above examples I was using single factor solutions, but thanks to the scalability that service models and cloud computing offer, all of those modalities can be combined.

That means, with a cloud service based biometric security solution, businesses can build their own multifactor security and cater it to their own operational or budgetary needs.

With multi-factor flexibility comes greater security too. With each additional biometric security factor added to a security system, it becomes more difficult for nefarious people to spoof past, but with cloud services handling the dirty work there’s no telling how many or what kind of factors will be needed for access.

Working with the cloud, considering the flexibility, security an cost benefits involved is a viable, accessible and attractive option for small and medium sized enterprizes wanting to make the biometric upgrade. And they should want to. It’s just good business.


That brings Cloud Authentication Month to a close. Stay posted next week as we announce the Mobile ID World feature theme of November.