What you may not have realized when you entered the field of accounting is that much of your success and growth will not only rely on your subject matter expertise, but how you manage technology and data security within your firm.
Only five years ago protecting your firm and your clients meant safety from things like Heartbleed in OpenSSL technology. Last year, that meant learning about the different types of cloud storage. Today, it’s about understanding the basics of biometrics identification, technology that identifies or authenticates your identity and how it will impact next-generation security.
So, why should you care about biometrics? What does that mean to you and your clients, now? Here are three critical points to consider when factoring biometrics security and its effect on the needs of your clients.
1. Biometric Authentication Isn’t Limited to Fingerprints
Apple brought the consumer application of biometric fingerprint technology into the mainstream with the release of the 2013 iPhone with Touch ID. But, you may be surprised to learn that consumer biometric security isn’t limited to identifying fingerprint patterns – new technologies are being perfected every day that incorporate hand geometry, voice pattern recognition, iris or retina recognition, facial recognition and even heart rhythms into ways to secure and access information.
Which technologies you use as a business (and which will be accessible and adopted at the consumer level) remain to be seen, but it’s worth considering how your company could adapt these new technologies in the future.
2. Biometrics Could Replace the Password
It’s incredible to see how the usage of passwords has expanded from its origin as a watchword for sentries monitoring travelers to 1979’s development of the Data Encryption Standard (DES) and 1997’s Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Today, we use passwords for everything from smartphones, apps and emails to operating systems and networks, ATMs, alarm systems and Wi-Fi networks.
For future generations, the majority of these systems could be replaced with biometric passwords that identify people through unique physical and behavioral characteristics. Until biometric technologies completely replace the classic password, here’s what you can do to maintain the highest possible level of security:
Use a combination of numbers, letters and phrases
Create a new password for every account and website
Never submit a password you know is weak (short, simple, obvious)
Use biometric security tools when possible
Use multi-factor authentication when possible
3. BYOD Brings Risks and Benefits to the Workplace
Whether you run a small accounting firm or a large organization, you’ve likely had to come to terms with the $67-$181 billion Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) market. In fact, 67 percent of workers use their own personal devices like PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones at work, and 74 percent of companies were expected to allow this practice by the end of 2017.
At the end of the day, whether you let employees BYOD or not will depend on how much your organization could benefit from the productivity and budget boosts. Also, how well it’s set up to handle the security challenges.
If you’re still considering whether or not to allow employees to bring personal devices into your workplace – each brand with varying levels of biometric security – you’ll want to consider the major pros and cons of doing so:
On the pro side, companies cite impressive benefits of increases in productivity, morale, and accountability, as well as a significant $350 savings per employee in hardware and networking costs.
On the other hand, companies warn against the risks of varied hardware, software and OS (which lead to inconsistent antivirus and malware protections) and support and admin challenges (including security policies and access permissions).
What does the future of biometric technology hold for accounting firms and their clients? The sky is the limit. Because with technology usage and risk on the rise, it only makes sense we try to counter it with the development of advanced new security technologies.
So, as your accounting firm considers the best options for hosting, securing or sharing data, keep these three critical biometric points in mind. Interested in learning more?