Back in April I posted my impressions of the Fujitsu (News - Alert) partnership with multi-modal identity management solutions provider ImageWare Systems (IWS). I had an opportunity to kick the tires of the solution at Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) in Barcelona and had come away impressed with both the strength of authentication being offered, along with the ease of use of the solution for IT people.
Running on the Fujitsu Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Trusted Public S5 platform, as well as its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) enablement tool, SystemWalker Catalog Manager, it was noted at that time why there was likely to be significant interest in using the partners’ solution to provide multiple choice options to enterprises on how to provide really strong authentication.
Indeed, the need for strong authentication, as the headlines scream at us daily, has reached the highest level urgency with enterprises of all shapes and sizes globally. However, with the exception possibly of financial services, no sector has at much at risk from being compromised by unauthorized visitors than large retailers. Pun intended—they make great targets. We are talking losses that potentially are in the billions of dollars to them and major problems for their customers.
It turns out that the observation of significant interest has been validated. ImageWare Systems has signed a three-year agreement with what has been called “a major international retailer” to provide its cloud-based, multi-modal biometric identity management product suite running on the Fujitsu Trusted S5 Cloud platform. While none of the companies involved will reveal the customer, reliable sources say it is Walmart.
Under the agreement, ImageWare's IWS CloudID product suite will use face, finger, iris and voice authentication; and run on top of the Fujitsu Trusted Cloud S5 platform, a fully configured, on-demand IT infrastructure. Walmart’s Mexico City locations will be the first implementation which is scheduled for September with ImageWare's local subsidiary, ImageWare Systems de Mexico doing the honors.
Since this is a cloud-based solution, the biometric products will be licensed on a service-fee model, i.e., there will be an initial license fee per person and a recurring monthly license fee thereafter.
"Organizations face heavy burdens related to the creation and maintenance of digital identities, data accuracy and lack of integration across credentialing, human resources, and physical and logical access control," said Jim Miller, ImageWare's chairman and CEO. "The IWS CloudID product – which runs on top of the Fujitsu Trusted Cloud S5 platform and is delivered via Fujitsu's global network of secure data centers – offers a cloud-based approach to all of these identity management concerns on a pay-as-you-go basis. We believe this agreement validates the steps we have taken to advance our cloud, SaaS and mobile offerings in the commercial and consumer marketplace."
As noted, ImageWare's agreement is in conjunction with its Fujitsu partnership to market its cloud-based, multi-modal biometric identity management offering delivered on the Fujitsu Global Cloud Platform (FGCP)— one of the world's largest cloud platforms.
Obviously Fujitsu is pleased. "We are happy to partner with ImageWare on the implementation of IWS CloudID in Mexico City to help this international retailer enhance its loss prevention and employee credentialing," said Dave Berry, executive vice president of Infrastructure Services at Fujitsu America, Inc. "This implementation leverages the world-class cloud capabilities of Fujitsu to deliver the unique features of ImageWare's CloudID solution. Together, Fujitsu and ImageWare help customers securely identify and authenticate mission-critical operations, data and transaction information, and streamline retailer operations to deliver an enhanced shopping experience for customers."
There is little doubt that loss prevention and proper employee credentialing are central to having state-of-the-art risk mitigation capabilities in place. Identity/authentication, as security professionals all say is the new perimeter for warding off not just outside threats but inside ones as well. In fact, as the Snowden revelations continue to highlight, along with other “inside jobs,” ensuring access to sensitive data is only for those who can be truly trusted—are authorized, can be identified, validated, authenticated and whose activities can be monitored—is not just about keeping away those from the outside with malicious intent.
The security industry rightfully focuses on protecting data when it is at rest/stored and on the move. It is the reason so much interest is now around enhanced end-to-end encryption. However, there is still the human element to all of this since it all starts with an individual getting access.
This is why bio-metrics have emerged as key elements in authentication and why multi-modal in particular is of interest. The reason multi-modal, if easy to use and cost effective, is so enticing is simple. It makes it much harder for the bad guys, which is the objective of any security solution. It is why these types of solutions are going to continue to command attention, and leveraging the cloud makes them that much more attractive.