Before an employer officially hires new personnel, security protocols typically require them to verify their applicant’s claimed identity.
This process is known as “identity proofing”. It ensures that the identity information supplied by the applicant is truthful and accurate, answering the question, “who are you?” and in doing so, establishing them as a trusted employee.
That employee’s identity can then be verified and authenticated for future security-related purposes, such as physical access control or systems login.
Identity proofing is critical in part because it helps employers know with confidence who it is that they’re hiring, and whatever risks they may pose if any as an employee with access to valuable or sensitive assets and information.
Insider fraud is a very real problem, and it costs the global economy upward of $3 trillion every year, according to University of Portsmouth researchers.
Insider fraud accounts for over 50% of all bank fraud and embezzlement cases. In a hiring situation, fake documents, stolen identities, and undisclosed aliases can be used in an attempt to cover up criminal records or conceal other information that might render an applicant unfit for employment.
Businesses therefore need complete confidence in the identity asserted by a prospective employee if they’re to provide access to proprietary information, intellectual property, and other valuable corporate assets.
It’s also a matter of making sure that bringing on a new hire won’t jeopardize the safety of other employees or customers.
The role of biometrics in identity proofing
Identity proofing has historically involved the collection of an applicant’s biographic information from their identity documents, validating the authenticity of the documents, and then corroborating the information with other public and private sources of identity data.
But biometrics can add further rigor to the process. Biometric modalities such as fingerprint, face, and iris are unique and permanent for each individual.
Because they are inherently part of us, they impossible to “steal”. Employing biometric spoof detection mechanisms makes them difficult for a fraudster to use to impersonate a victim. The special properties of biometrics make them ideal for identity proofing.
Biometric-based identity proofing is achieved by collecting a face, fingerprint, or other modality during employee onboarding and then performing a search against either an internal database of samples or submit to some external biometric watch list service. A biometric match with a different person would indicate that the applicant was surreptitiously attempting to claim to be someone else.
The process can also determine definitively whether the employee has worked for the company before.
Employers can use external biometric background checks to determine their criminal history. For example, if they have fingerprints or mugshots in the FBI database, that will be flagged during the one-to-many biometric search.
According to Indeed, 67 percent of applicant background checks are conducted for the purpose of identity verification; 84 percent of background checks try to detect an existing criminal record. The benefit of biometrics is that they can decisively achieve both of those goals.
Industries that benefit from biometric identity proofing
Any business that is potentially vulnerable to insider fraud or crime can benefit from biometric-based identity proofing. Some examples include:
Banking, insurance, and financial services
Banks, insurance companies and other financial services in the U.S. are encouraged under FFIEC guidelines to perform thorough screenings and background checks for all new employees.
This is primarily to validate the integrity of new personnel in a group of industries that has been heavily plagued by data theft and fraud.
Hospitals and other medical facilities must verify the legitimacy of credentials for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals and staff.
Part of this process is verifying the applicant’s identity to be sure that the credentials actually belong to the person they’re hiring. This is vital for the safe delivery of care to patients, and for the security of healthcare facilities.
Energy exploration, transportation, and other industries with transient workforces
In industries such as oil exploration, shipping, and construction, companies often must be particularly cautious about whom they hire.
Biometrics-based identity proofing helps these companies to know and trust their employees with greater confidence.
Biometrics as a service with technologies.
Biometrics for identity proofing is already being used by government agencies such as the Department of Defense in applicant background checks.
As biometric technology becomes increasingly accessible, it will play an increasingly important role in identity proofing in the private sector.
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