Thumbs up as new fingerprint recognition system comes to South Africa.

October 99 Access Control & Identity Management

Personal computers store a lot of information that once was kept under lock and key. The problem now is restricting access to that information.

If your PC holds sensitive data, local diversified technology company DataSphere Technologies has introduced a device to South Africa called the U.are.U, which depends on a password absolutely unique to each person, impossible to duplicate and not likely to become lost - a fingerprint.

Says DataSphere Technologies' Martin Smullen, "The Digital Persona U.are.U Deluxe is a desktop-only fingerprint authentication system that presents a polished face rarely seen in biometric products. It delivers a complete desktop solution for Windows 95 and 98 users who want extra security for certain files, particular applications and hard disk partitions."

The U.are.U consists of a USB-connected fingerprint scanner, a suite of software, and a separate programme called Private Space (in the Deluxe version) that lets users create biometrically protected portions of the hard disk and map them to individual drive letters.

"You can save encrypted files to your 'private space' as easily as to your hard disk," continues Smullen. "The scanner works with a RADIUS-style challenge/response link that will prevent attempts to gain unauthorised entry by sending out false ID signals."

Both scanner and software are extremely easy to instal. The U.are.U recognises users with exceptional accuracy and speed, even when fingers are placed on the scanner at odd angles. Verification is rotation invariant. Using the system is very unobtrusive and enrolling users is quite simple, thanks to the bundled control centre software interface which lets users quickly enrol from one to 10 fingers simply by touching the sensor four times with each digit.

Once registered, users can log on to the system with a single touch of the scanner - and without a user name prompt, as with other similar products on the market.

"One impressive Control Centre option, called the Password Bank," says Smullen, "lets users replace the entry password for any application - including passwords for websites - with a fingerprint. To do so, simply hit Control while touching the scanner; then, when prompted for a password, fill in the prompt with your text password and drag it to the original password box."

Another feature of the system, One Touch Screensaver, operates like any ordinary screensaver, except that it can be removed from the screen only by an authorised fingerprint.

The sensor is designed for ease of use, requires no external supply and its USB port capability makes it truly plug-and-play. This facilitates even easier access to Windows, the Net and on-line services. It is compatible with the expanding encryption infrastructure and can generate, upon recognition of a fingerprint, a unique 128 bit cryptographic key.

The Digital Persona U.are.U is an unobtrusive and practical solution for controlling access on the desktop. It is a wise step if you are just entering the world of biometric security. "This is one password that cannot be forged or copied. It ensures that what is yours remains yours. You are the password," concludes Smullen.

For details contact DataSphere Technologies on tel: (011) 783 8517.

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