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WHY FINGERPRINT BIOMETRICS IS THE FUTURE OF IT SECURITY

David Orme, Senior Vice President at IDEX Biometrics ASA

 

IT security and data protection are crucial factors for business longevity and profitability. Every year billions of dollars are spent bolstering corporate IT security to protect companies from potential cyberattacks.

Since the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, any company that falls foul of a data breach will now face fines of up to €20 million or 4% of its annual turnover. In fact, the biggest fine to date was issued to British Airways in September this year. After the personal data of 500,000 of its customers was leaked from their company website and mobile app, BA was fined a hefty £183 million.

The threat of these large GDPR fines is a stark reminder that businesses must enforce stringent IT security policies to remain compliant with new data and IT security regulations and prevent cyberattacks. Yet, alarmingly, a recent study revealed that 74% of corporate data breaches occurred because of abuse or misuse of internal password credentials for secure company accounts.

This shows that cyber attackers are increasingly accessing corporate networks using weak, stolen, or otherwise compromised credentials. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure only the appropriate staff can access their devices, offices and networks, particularly in high-risk industries, such as finance, banking, insurance or data providers.

 

The death of the password

It has long been apparent that passwords are outdated and no longer adequate to protect a business’ IT infrastructure and data assets. Now, we are starting to see the continued use of this insufficient mode of authentication putting consumer data at risk and costing businesses money.

To resolve this, companies must move towards more heightened security measures, such as using employees’ physical identities and biometric data to authenticate entry to corporate buildings, networks and devices. Fingerprint biometrics, by nature, are personal to the individual and can’t be replicated, making them the perfect proof of identity to authenticate user access within business environments.

 

Smart buildings, smart access

Once, gaining access to an organisation’s headquarters through hand or fingerprint scanning seemed like something only needed for top-secret offices such as MI5, or in Mission Impossible films. However, thanks to the increasing amount of data stored on company servers, it is becoming a necessity for most organisations to secure their offices and data centres. This will help protect not only private information, but also the personal details their customers have entrusted them with.

The use of fingerprint biometrics to manage employee access to corporate buildings has already started to emerge. In physical security, fingerprint biometric sensors are currently being used for access control, authentication and employee verification to enter offices and secure data centres. Unlike simple swipe cards and PIN codes, your fingerprint can’t be dropped in the canteen, or shared with a colleague, making them a valuable tool for physical security.

On top of this, when you combine physical security checks with devices and digital security, it results in an end-to-end encryption technology that can work across the organisation, ensuring secure access to both physical assets and valuable digital information.

Furthermore, as we move towards a future where smart buildings appear in our neighbourhoods, biometric fingerprint authentication can also become a valuable and convenient tool to ensure secure access to schools, hospitals and homes.

 

Use your fingerprint to unlock

 The ability to link biometric authentication across physical and IT security means it’s not just building access that can benefit from biometric authentication. Fingerprint biometric sensors can also be incorporated into IT devices to manage access to corporate networks, for example. While Apple only introduced the first iPhone fingerprint sensor in 2012, today it is considered the norm to access our smartphone through a secure, quick and easy fingerprint scan. Similarly, this secure method of validation will soon be considered standard for company devices, from tablets and phones to laptops to desktops.

To achieve this on company desktops, which often never leave the premises, fingerprint scanners can be embedded into keyboards. This confirms that only the approved employee can access the device, the corporate network, and secure data.

 

Time to embrace biometric IT security

With the threat of data breaches and the penalties that follow them, on the rise, it is now essential for businesses of all sizes to protect their corporate offices, devices and networks more robustly.

Organisations should act now to abandon the use of insecure passwords or swipe cards and embrace innovative biometric technology. Doing so will provide secure, measurable and reliable access for the correct members of the team. By incorporating biometric fingerprint authentication into staff access or having employees log in to their devices or access secure networks, companies will be more able to confidently safeguard their data. Biometric IT security ensures the right people can gain access to the right information and to the right areas of a corporate building, ensuring businesses can put up a greater defence against the growing threat of data breaches.

 

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Business

HOW TECHNOLOGY IS MAKING AIRLINES SMARTER DURING LOCKDOWN

Captain Nadhem is the General Manager of Alpha Aviation UAE

 

2020 has provided challenges to all industries, but few have been as directly hit as air travel by the Covid-19 pandemic. Across the world, entire fleets have been grounded as international airports closed and travel bans were introduced worldwide.

Unfortunately, the challenges faced by airlines do not stop there. Airline economics dictate that planes be used as much as possible. For larger planes, this means keeping them in the air as close to 24/7 as is possible. For this reason, there simply aren’t enough dedicated storage facilities at global hub airports. At Frankfurt Airport for example, the tarmac on the 4th runway is now the home of many of the airport’s planes. It can also often take as long as 30 days to return a commercial jet to circulation after it has been mothballed.

As a result, many planes that are still in circulation have been transferred to the Indian sub-continent where air travel hasn’t been as badly disrupted. It will take some time for them to be rehomed to their previous routes if flight paths do reopen. In 2021, the aviation industry will also need to adapt and re-assess both its fleet sizes and operational strategies in order to re-build in the wake of this global crisis.

Pilots account for a key proportion of overhead costs and airlines will be constantly rethinking their pilot training strategy, which is likely to include a need to outsource and decentralise to maximise efficiency. At the same time, trained pilots will require training updates and renewals to their licenses, even as fleets are grounded.

Flight simulators have therefore assumed a crucial role in 2020. Usually developed to keep experienced crews sharp by creating challenging scenarios in safe environment for them to overcome, they have now become important across the industry for several reasons. Flying, like any other skill, requires constant practice to maintain the highest level of competency. That’s why airlines have recency rules that require pilots to perform a specified number of take-offs, landings and approaches within a certain period of time.

Advancements in simulator technology continue to bridge the gap between theory and reality. At Alpha Aviation we’ve recently invested in the new Alsim-AL172 flight simulator that features a Cessna 172 cockpit, with two seats and a flight deck. As pilots still need to clock up over 1,500 flying hours to receive their ATP certificate, advanced simulators like these will also be effective in providing pilot training without the operational costs of a real flight.

This year also highlighted the need for regulators to make changes to the training process. For example, there will need to be more reliance on e-learning in the initial cadet training and the acceptance of integrated technology in simulator training will also be important. Further adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can also offer a vital competitive advantage.

AI technologies have already been widely adopted across the aviation industry. From facial recognition at airport passport security to baggage check-in and remote aircraft monitoring. For years these innovations have been streamlining processes, both for operators and customers. However, AI has a much greater potential beyond these practical applications.

Among other benefits, AI and machine learning algorithms excel at recognising patterns and are extremely efficient at collating data from the process of training cadets. As most flight simulators are already equipped with sensors that generate considerable amounts of data, this resource can now be used to assess pilot competency from the onset of training.

Powerful AI and machine learning systems can analyse hundreds of flight parameters and sort through thousands of hours of simulator data to produce findings that a human coach wouldn’t have been able to determine. For example, AI programmes can evaluate a pilot’s ability as they execute key manoeuvres and create a comprehensive assessment of a cadet’s strengths and weaknesses based on real-time data.

The data collected from these training sessions can also be analysed by AI programmes to evaluate how the cadets fly certain training routes, for example, considering their angle of descent and acceleration periods. From this, airlines can gather enough data to build a picture of each pilot’s unique flying style and determine the optimum routes for them to fly.

A crucial part of this assessment centres around the rate each pilot burns fuel. Real-time decisions about the throttle settings during take-off and the climb can have a significant impact on the amount of fuel burned during a flight. With airlines spending around 33 percent of their operational costs on fuel, reducing the rate that fuel is burned can have a considerable effect on the finances of an airline and its carbon footprint.

Airlines already use AI systems to collect flight data regarding route distance, altitudes, and aircraft weight to determine the amount of fuel needed for a flight. However, now the data collected from simulators can also be used to pair pilots to specific routes, based on optimum fuel usage. This will result in cost savings for the airline by optimising the potential of their pilot crew to reduce excess overheads.

As we continue to work directly with regulators and the airlines to further expand the use of technology and AI in the industry, our ability to continue to adapt and innovate in this crisis will hopefully mean clearer skies ahead.

 

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Finance

HOW COVID-19 HAS RESHAPED THE PAYMENTS LANDSCAPE

By Mohamed Chaudry, Group Chief Financial Officer of FoodHub

 

The year 2020 may well have sounded the death knell for the saying cash is king. As the pandemic took over our world, consumer behaviour altered considerably as people embraced contactless payment, e-commerce and delivery services for many of the things we once handed over notes to buy.

Finextra reports that research carried out by YouGov for the ATM network Link found that 58% of Brits are using cash a lot less often thanks to the pandemic, with 54% avoiding it altogether and using alternative payment methods.

Some 76% of those questioned by YouGov added that they think the crisis will affect their future use of cash over the next six months.

 

Adapt to survive

Many businesses, particularly those in the food sector, quickly worked out they needed to pivot and adapt if they were to survive. Social distancing measures, lockdowns and the economic downturn hit the hospitality industry hard.

Safe and convenient online payments provide food businesses with a solid foundation from which to operate. The year 2020 saw the rise of payment gateways and the size of the market is likely to escalate in the coming months, giving online merchants more choice over the gateways they choose to work with.

Many of these platforms are embracing the changes in innovative ways, adapting to the altered way of life and creating different ways to facilitate recurring online payments and members’ due models. They can also put in place order ahead services for restaurants and expanded delivery options.

 

‘Seamless’ payments process

As lockdown restrictions continue to drive more people online, the e-commerce industry needs to offer seamless online payments to maximise its soaring popularity. The right payments provider should be able to guarantee security, offer access to fast-growing markets and a plethora of relevant payment methods for each market, all components that provide expansion opportunities and a better consumer experience.

Payment providers allow food businesses to focus on their core business and meet new customer demand while they take over the non-core competency tasks. Platforms such as online food portals need to design their site or app to make it as easy as possible for merchants to onboard and customers to use.

As the use of online payments racks up, online security has never been more important. Increases in one inevitably result in the increase of fraud or cyberattacks. Platforms and businesses must ensure customer data is protected. Payment partners can ensure security is key, their greater size and expertise providing the added edge to small businesses that do not have that capability.

 

Building a loyal customer base

Payment security is what will encourage—and keep—customers who haven’t previously used online food portals. Building a loyal, local customer base can encourage businesses to consider expansion—perhaps opening more venues in their region or county or even nationwide.

Promoting the ways in which a platform can benefit customers and a community—in the midst of a pandemic, for example, many people will be conscious that their local takeaway/restaurants, etc., are suffering and they’ll be anxious to help—is another way to broaden a platform’s appeal. An app that doesn’t charge a service fee or take a commission from its partners is one way to do this.

Covid-19 has accelerated consumers’ whole-scale move to online payments faster than anyone can have imagined, and they want convenient, relevant and secure payment services for markets that have previously been served mainly by cash or card.

The pressure is on for retailers (and especially food retailers who want to survive) to ensure they can meet this demand.

 

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