Protect your system using fingerprint recognition

For years, characters in science fiction movies and television series have proved their identities by inserting their fingers into high-tech contraptions. Now I/O Software and Sony Electronics are making this seemingly far-fetched fingerprint identification technology available for your desktop. The Puppy Secure Logon System for Windows NT, which works with Sony's Fingerprint Identification Unit (FIU), is a biometric fingerprint identification system that gives you secure access to NT machines with the touch of a finger.

Puppy's Purpose
The size of the FIU is 42mm * 42mm * 92.50mm. The unit contains a biometric sensor that captures an image of your fingerprint when you touch it. It analyzes fingerprints and creates a digital representation of each fingerprint's characteristics. The FIU can then store this data in its nonvolatile memory or download the data to a computer database.

The Puppy Secure Logon System software acts as a bridge between NT and the FIU, performing verifications and logging users on to their NT machines. The software adds an FIU User Manager to your NT system's Administrative Tools program group. The FIU User Manager lets you specify which logons require FIU verification, record users' fingerprints for future verification, and perform other maintenance tasks. The version the Lab tested supports logon authorization using only the local machine security database. A domain-oriented version of the software is now available.

The Puppy Secure Logon System software offers three levels of logon security. You can require users to log on with a username and password (NT's standard security). You can require users to log on with a username and fingerprint ID verification. For maximum security, you can require users to log on with a username, password, and fingerprint.

The software also lets you record alternative fingerprints so that you can use another finger as identification if your standard logon finger is unavailable (e.g., a cut distorts your fingerprint). You can even enroll all 10 fingers in the system, and select which fingerprint you want to use each time you log on.

Puppy Power
Installing the Puppy Secure Logon System is effortless. You connect the FIU to a serial port on your computer, install the software from the distribution CD-ROM or floppy, and reboot your computer. I installed the system on my Digital Prioris HX running NT Server. Through the FIU User Manager, I set up my NT account to let me log on using only my fingerprint for identification. As part of the setup process, I placed my finger on the FIU sensor, which provided the software with a copy of my fingerprint that the User Manager can use to verify my identity. Screen 1 shows the enrollment process and the FIU's picture of my fingerprint.

After setting up the software, I logged off my system. The Puppy Secure Logon System brought up a screen asking me to touch the Sony FIU sensor to log on. After I placed my finger on the sensor, another logon screen asked me for my username. I provided my username, pressed Enter, and instantly entered the system.

To test the Puppy Secure Logon System's accuracy, I enrolled the fingerprints of a mother and daughter on my system. Many fingerprint identification systems have trouble differentiating between mothers and daughters, who often have similar fingerprint patterns. However, this system had no problem keeping the fingerprints straight--the mark of a superior verification algorithm. In my 10 years of experience with biometric fingerprint identification systems, I have not encountered a quicker or more accurate system than the Puppy Secure Logon System.

Because you must purchase an FIU and a copy of the software for every computer you want to secure, this security option is not cheap. However, if security is of paramount importance in your environment, then the Puppy Secure Logon System and accompanying Sony FIU are well worth the investment.

Puppy Secure Logon System for Windows NT
Contact: I/O Software * 909-222-7600, Web: http://www.iosoftware.com
Price: $650 for one Sony Fingerprint Identification Unit and companion Puppy Secure Logon System software
System Requirements: Windows NT 3.51 or 4.0 RS-232 serial port