U.S. government agencies increasingly adopting new biometric authentication tools

February 20, 2017 - 

U.S. government agencies are increasingly adopting a range of biometric technologies to ­minimize cyberthreats and streamline system access, according to a report by FedTech.

The Defense and Homeland Security departments have long been using fingerprint readers to facilitate physical and digital access.

However, these agencies and others are increasingly investing in new biometric technologies which measure an individual’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics, including facial dimensions, ­fingerprints and irises, handprints, voiceprints, gait and signature.

G. Nagesh Rao, chief technologist at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Investment and Innovation, said that federal agencies are particularly investing in R&D projects that test biometrics for network authentication in order to strengthen systems and benefit from the technology.

The office has issued more than 195 awards involving biometric technologies through various commercialization and seed funding programs, Rao said.

These federal agency-funded projects include a biometric key infrastructure that uses biometric signatures; multimodal verification; and soft-biometric classification systems that can pinpoint the user’s gender, ethnicity and features.

Previously reported, Technavio released a report titled “Global Biometrics Market in the Government Sector 2016-2020”, which forecasts that the global biometrics market in the government sector will grow at a CAGR of over 11% until 2020.

Total industry revenues are forecast to exceed $100 million by 2020, with the Pentagon alone accounting for more than half of that revenue in the areas of logical access control and identification systems, the report states.

DOD officials announced in June 2016 that they would replace the Common Access Card for a multifactor authentication solution that would eliminate passwords.

Pentagon officials believe that biometric and other identity factors will play an integral role in the new solutions.

“The DOD’s complex data access environment, combined with the evolving threat landscape, calls for agile, device-agnostic access through strong identification, authentication and authorization,” said DOD spokesperson Army Lt. Col. James Brindle.

He added that it is inherent that the DOD’s authentication solutions support a range of users, and “not only mobile and tactical users.

“We likely won’t issue physical credentials to non-DOD workers, but we need to give them access to protected system information,” Brindle said.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.