Vein identification is more secure than fingerprint ID, says Hitachi tech guru

In the future, you might be able to open doors by just looking directly at an iris-scanning camera.

They’ve been doing that in the NCIS television show (pictured) for years, so that’s long enough time for the technology to leave the military establishment — or at least the fictionalised version of it — and enter the commercial world of everyday people.

Most people are familiar with fingerprint identification technology, especially if they use smartphones. An iPhone, for example, can be accessed by the owner using his or her fingerprint.

But apparently finger-vein scanning is even more secure. Whereas some tech-savvy criminal can use a 3D printer to make models of someone’s fingerprints, it would be difficult to replicate someone’s veins, which are below the skin.

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It is this finger-vein ID system that Hitachi has been pushing as its next big security technology for companies looking for identity and access management solutions.

Barclays is already a customer, and the company believes there will be others who could benefit from the system.hand-finger-veins

In this exclusive interview, we speak to Ravi Ahluwalia, deputy general manager, information systems group – EMEA, Hitachi Europe, and ask about the company’s security solutions for identity and access management.

EM360: Tell us about your new identity and access management technology.

Ravi Ahluwalia: As part of its digital security suite of solutions, Hitachi provides finger vein authentication technology for securing the digital channel.

Barclays business customers will use this solution in the online banking portal for identity verification and transaction authorisation.

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With increasing concern that passwords, PINs or PKI [public key infrastructure] smart cards do not offer enough privacy protection, banks are increasingly turning to biometric authentication as an alternative method to ensure the integrity of customer transactions.

Give us a brief description of how it works, its key features and benefits.

A number of solutions are available. For online use, a portable scanner plugs into the USB port of the customer’s computer. The scanner shines near infra-red light into the finger to allow an image of the unique vein patterns to be collected. The image is processed into a template which is stored in encrypted form inside a secure smart card during the registration process.

For customer logins to banking systems or to authorise a transaction, the live-scan data is compared inside the smart card with the registered template in order to complete the request. Since finger vein patterns are internal and exist within the body, they are extremely difficult to replicate.

Whilst lots of different biometric technologies exist, the privacy compliant and non-traceable finger vein authentication is considered to be the safest and most secure method of verifying identity and ensuring the integrity of financial transactions.

What are the advantage of such systems over password-based systems, or do they work in combination?

Finger Vein ID technology is much more convenient than password systems as there is no need for customers to remember a series of numbers or words.

Within financial services, staff are now able to use finger vein scanners to authorise multiple transactions, making these not only more secure but also much quicker as it takes significantly less time to simply scan a finger than use passwords, card readers and PIN codes.

Even though they are meant to be personal to the individual, passwords, PINs and smart cards can be shared among users which can lead to mistakes and fraudulent activity.

This fast and secure biometric authentication solution tightens up operational process and improves efficiency for corporate banking customers.

The popularity and efficiency of finger vein technology is demonstrated by the fact that more than 80 per cent of the Japanese retail banks that have implemented biometrics have selected the finger vein solution. It is now used on more than 100,000 ATMs in Japan for the authentication of cash withdrawal transactions.

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