By Mohammed Murad

Many offices, retail operations, manufacturing facilities and other businesses are closing and sending employees home to work as the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus continues to spread. The contents of these empty facilities may become easy targets for criminals.

Many of these businesses are protected by access control systems using traditional plastic access cards. But they may not be enough by themselves. Commonly used card types — mag stripe, proximity, even MIFARE or iCLASS — may be cloned within minutes by an experienced hacker. That may create two identical cards, but the system software won’t recognize the difference.

Imagine data rooms, equipment storage and many other areas all readily accessible to unauthorized persons. That’s why two-factor authentication using a biometric technology has become so important. Fingerprints, facial features and iris patterns are difficult, almost impossible, to clone.

But what makes one biometric system better than the others? Fingerprint readers require contact. The COVID-19 virus has been shown to live on stainless steel and plastic for as long as three days. Facial recognition is contactless; however, it is not the most accurate of the technologies. And protective masks many people are wearing today only decrease that accuracy.

Iris recognition is highly accurate, capable of identifying a person wearing gloves, masks, goggles, glasses and contact lenses. It is also contactless. There’s also no need to re-enroll employees into the security system as a person’s iris pattern is set at birth.

Installing iris recognition readers at building entries adds a valuable second layer of security at vulnerable facilities as they sit empty during this worldwide health crisis.

(Mohammed Murad is vice president global sales and business development, Iris ID)