Physical and Logical Access brings science fiction tech to life

Last updated: 02 January 2018

Creepy or Cool? When the big screen gets real

From the Jetson’s to Star Wars, Physical and Logical Access -Chipped Handtechnologies we once thought were just far-fetched inventions made up for movies and television are showing up in our everyday lives.   Think Back to the Future and the hover board or Total Recall and self-driving cars.   In 1968, we had a front row seat to the unveiling of an iPad.  Well not really, but 2001 A Space Odyssey featured a scene with two men watching a news program on what looked EXACTLY like modern day tablets.

I’m a big fan of the Bourne films.  And even though there was no Matt Damon, the series continued with The Bourne Legacy, featuring Jeremy Renner as a Black Ops agent on the run.   Long story short, he was implanted with an RFID device and being tracked by a drone operated by the bad guys.  And now we have another example of a movie plot coming to real life.

A U.S. company has taken a move into the future by offering microchip implants for employees.  Three Square Market, based in River Falls, Wisconsin, gives employees the ability to access physical entries, logon to their computers and pay for items at the company cafeteria with the wave of a hand.  Because the devices are passive RFID, there is no location tracking (active RFID) using drones like in the movies.

The program is completely voluntary, but more than 60% of the employees enthusiastically said yes to the implant.  Feedback ranged from excitement for being part of something so cutting edge to fear about implanting something into the body.  Although this is not the first time a company has proposed microchipping employees, it’s a first for a U.S.-based company.

So creepy or cool?  At Gemalto, we use smart card technology.  It allows me to use a single credential to physically access the building and secure areas, as well as logical access controls to securely log in to my computer using multi-factor authentication.  Have I ever forgotten my badge?  Of course, and it certainly makes for a slow start to the day.   If Gemalto gave the option for microchipping, my hand would act as my badge, much like a biometric solution.  However, you lose the benefit of visual identification when you move from a physical badge to a biometric.  Many companies and government agencies require a physical identification to be visible at all times.  Again, using my own company as an example, we are required to visually display our smart cards in a lanyard while walking the halls.

But having your employer implant something MicroChipped Doginto your body is a bit unnerving in my opinion.  What happens if I leave the company?  Will they cut the implant out, like the Black Ops agent did in The Bourne Legacy to escape his trackers?  And what about health concerns? Implantable RFID chips were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004, but what if the implant sight gets infected?  What if the implant moves around?  My dog Hank was microchipped, but it disappeared after a couple of years and we had to re-chip him.  Where did the chip go?  Food for thought. 

So now that I’ve given you something to think about, I would love to hear your thoughts on this controversial subject.  What do you think about microchipping for enterprise security physical and logical access controls?  Is it creepy or cool?  Would you be the first to sign up for the innovative program or would you be the reluctant one who will stick with the physical badge?   Please leave us your comments.

Interested in simplifying your physical and logical access with converged badging? Check out our video on  What is PKI?

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