Biometrics – document security is at your fingertips

As biometric security becomes more popular, we are seeing increased usage at the point of print. Arena’s Head of Professional Services, Ian Fox, takes a look at the reasons why, outlining the rationale and benefits behind biometric authentication technology.

The evolution of secure printing

An increased focus on document security has resulted in many organisations implementing print control solutions that have Find-Me capable print queues. This technology requires users to submit print jobs to a virtual queue where they are held until the user visits a printer of their choice to authenticate and release the jobs that they wish to print. The security benefit here lies in preventing confidential information from being left uncollected on printer output trays.

There are a number of ways of authenticating (i.e. identifying yourself) at the device in order to release your printed pages from the virtual queue. Typically these are PIN, username and password login, or some form of proximity technology such as key fobs or oyster style cards. However, all of these can potentially be lost, stolen or lent – not so secure.

Introducing biometrics

Biometric authentication has become increasingly popular over recent years. The most common device for printers is a fingerprint scanner but other forms exist, including retina and facial scanners.

Unlike a card, PIN or fob, biometric data cannot be lost, lent or stolen - so only users that should have access to their documents can actually release them.

There is also no more danger of forgetting your card or fob – it’s unlikely that users will forget their fingers! Once biometric data is recorded, it is held centrally and cannot be lost.

There are also a cost and efficiency benefits in that the need to buy cards and fobs or to set-up, provide and replace those items is removed.

Implementing biometric security – 4 simple steps

1. Notify employees of the intention to use a biometric system – and who they should speak to if they have any concerns.

It’s worth noting here that change in business is often met with reluctance, especially when that change involves the security of personal data such as fingerprints. For this reason it’s wise to try anticipating some likely concerns and queries so that you can be prepared.

For example: Users can be assured that only an encrypted mathematical representation of their fingerprint is stored, rather than an image of their fingerprint. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to create an image from the mathematical representation that is stored in the database.

2. Be prepared for challenges to the system based on any area that is protected by the law - such as religion or disability.

Consider making allowances and providing alternatives for those who raise any legally justifiable objection to compliance with a biometric scanning policy. There have been cases of employers getting into hot water when challenged by employees who were physically unable to use such devices or who held strong religious objections to using them.

3. Check current legislation surrounding biometric security, and prepare policies to ensure the safety of all biometric data.

4. Communicate clearly at every stage of implementation to reassure staff and deal with any concerns as early in the process as possible.

The future

Although it’s relatively early days for biometric security in the workplace, it is now accepted and expected in areas such as airports which employ facial recognition software and iris scanners.

There is a huge potential for the use of biometrics in business. If the technology is implemented correctly and accepted, soon you could be clocking in, authorising documents and making purchases all using biometrics.

More information: Contact Arena Group to find out more about monitoring and controlling print, printing from mobile devices, digitising your paper-driven processes or implementing an electronic document management system. Tel: 0844 8638000 | Email: |