Who do you think you are?

Unlike other methods of identifying people, biometrics can guarantee the user is who they claim to be. Passwords can easily be stolen by a `shoulder surfer’, and smart cards can be borrowed or stolen. Biometrics analyse a number of human attributes including voice, face, retina/iris and fingerprint.

Until now biometrics’ prices were prohibitive for fail-safe systems. But the price of biometrics technology is falling, particularly fingerprint readers. So much so that fingerprint readers are now readily available on the market. Swedish biometrics specialist Precise Biometrics offers its 100SC verifier for about £150.

The login system is supported by MS Windows 95/98/NT/2000 Server and Workstation. Versions for Unix/Linux are currently being developed. The system consists of a fingerprint reader, which is connected through the parallel port or through the USB port, and the accompanying software. The installation is done automatically with a CD-ROM.

The user places a finger on the reader where the fingerprint is read and verified in less than one second. The user’s fingerprint is read, processed, encrypted, and stored so the fingerprint can’t be recreated from the stored information – there is therefore no risk that a user’s personal integrity is violated. The users do not have to worry about entering a user name either.

It is usually secure enough to store all fingerprint information on the hard disk. If additional security is required, the information can be stored encrypted on the built in smart card. All users are then given a smart card, which is inserted into the reader before a reading.

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