RealTime IT News

DigitalPersona Reads Your Finger

DigitalPersona has introduced version 4.0 of its enterprise-scale biometric  reader, featuring improved accuracy and single sign-on support.

The announcement is well-timed. Just one week ago, the global research firms Nucleus Research and KnowledgeStorm released a report that one in three people write down computer passwords, which defeats the purpose of security in the first place.

The report suggested companies consider more advanced methods of security, including biometrics. Chip Mesec, senior product marketing manager for DigitalPersona, couldn't agree more.

"Passwords are easy to crack, easy to break, expensive to maintain, and enterprise companies are facing challenges between strong passwords and not letting people resort to social methods like writing it on sticky pads or using easy-to-remember passwords," he said.

DigitalPersona Pro 4.0 software can be deployed on all of the biometrically enabled notebooks for the enterprise in addition to supporting DigitalPersona's own U.are.U (CQ) authenticator.

New in DigitalPersona Pro 4.0 is increased server performance, improved administration tools and faster and more accurate authentication. The new authentication server can now handle up to 3,000 transactions at a time, per processor.

The administration tools now offer graphical and scripted interfaces to step the admins through the process of installations, upgrades, policy, events and end-user options.

Finally, the reader has improved its accuracy in reading fingerprints, and the security PIN length has been increased from four to eight characters.

Even though many notebooks have fingerprint readers, Mesec said many companies don't use them because the software doesn't allow for single sign-on, like he said DigitalPersona does.

Mesec claims DigitalPersona 4.0 is 10 to 100 times more accurate than laptop readers, which translates into reliability. "If users hate it and don't want to use it, then deployment was a waste," he said.

The software supports more than 2,000 templates from third-party applications, so it can be used to sign on to Windows and applications ranging from Web apps, the Internet, mainframe and terminal services from one fingerprint read.

Daren Mehl, assistant vice president of IT for United Bankers Bank (UBB), has been using DigitalPersona since 2004 and said passwords simply weren't enough any more, especially when multi-million-dollar transactions were involved.

"We realized that passwords would not be a viable solution going forward for security and authorization. They can be guessed, they don't guarantee the identity of the user, plus we've got viruses and Trojans that monitor your keyboard," he said.

"Only way that we could really know that the person on the other end of the trans is who they say they are is to use a biometric and other security features," he added.

The fingerprint can't be guessed, shared or forgotten, and has proven reliable for UBB, which supports independent banks in seven upper Midwestern states.

"It handles 70,000 logins per month," he said. "Out of the box, the false accepted rate was .01 percent. The new version is around .001 percent."

DigitalPersona Pro 4.0 client software is priced at $60, while the Workstation package of the software and fingerprint reader is $149. The server software costs $1,499 and requires a Windows server running Active Directory.