The next generation of secure, convenient Internet identification technology is at users’ fingertips. Sony’s FIU-700 fingerprint identification system is a credit card-size biometric device that provides both authentication and data security and is designed to make Internet transactions secure.
The FIU-700 takes the best of passwords, digital certificates, hardware tokens, smart cards and biometrics and combines them into a stand-alone fingerprint verification device with PKI (public key infrastructure) key generation to provide more security than other existing fingerprint identification technologies.
‘Sony envisions a number of applications in the near- and long-term for this technology, particularly in e-commerce, Internet and corporate security,’ aid Andrew Mougis, senior vice president, applications systems division of Sony Electronics’ Broadcast and Professional Company.
This fusion of security measures that Sony has coined ‘convergent authentication,’ can combine a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) code with a fingerprint for a higher level of security, or, for added flexibility and convenience, the fingerprint can be used instead of a password or PIN.
Uses include areas that require rigorous information security such as network access; remote access via virtual private networks (VPNs); e-commerce applications, especially for high-value transactions where authentication is crucial; business-to-business applications; applications that would allowdoctors secure access to patient information from their offices, hospitals or remotely; and vertical business networks such as law firms, defence contractors and other areas where access to files is restricted.
While using a fingerprint to verify identity is not new, the FIU-700 scans and matches fingerprints internally through a silicon-based capacitance sensor and a hardware-based proprietary pattern-matching algorithm. This means that the fingerprints never leave the device, and are never transferred into a computer where they could be retrieved by a hacker.
The fingerprint acts as a lock to the rest of the device’s capabilities. Once the match is made, the FIU-700 can generate a 1024-bit PKI key to verify identification. The unit has 1MB of internal flash memory that stores the keys, the fingerprints and any other needed data such as passwords to Web sites.
The stand-alone, self-contained FIU-700 is an external peripheral that weighs 35 grams, measures 85.6 x 54 x 9 mm, is USB-powered and connects to a computer via a special USB cable. It contains USB drivers for Windows 98 and 2000 and there is a serial cable available for use with Windows NT systems.
Sony is working with Entrust Technologies and I/O Software, to allow them to develop specific software applications and is also actively looking to work with other many software providers in a wide variety of fields.