Nuggets: Biometric security gets personal

5thSense gets in touch with tiny fingerprint sensor

Biometrics was one of the hottest topics at this month's Comdex exhibition in Las Vegas. But most of the fuss around this form of security was aimed at businesses worried about securing their corporate networks. However the average computer user can be just as paranoid as the biggest corporate. Which is where Veridicom's 5thSense comes in.

This is a personal fingerprint authentication system based on the company's postage stamp sized fingerprint sensor, developed by those clever chaps at the Bell/Lucent labs. It attaches to a USB or parallel port and is based on silicon as opposed to optical camera technology. And, as Veridicom is at pains to point out, it has a "rugged, scratch-free surface".

It works in tandem with the company's Confirma data security software package, which includes imaging algorithms and "extract and match" feature and applications software. All of which means that you'll be spared the embarrassment of someone getting into your pornography library.

For those of you using Windows 95/98, the software prompts for a user fingerprint where a password would normally be entered -- you can set multiple fingerprints if you've got any friends that you really trust. The screen saver function activates a screen saver when away from the PC which can only be turned off by placing your finger on the reader. There's file/folder or disk encryption to lock up files, and support for smartcards.

If the thought of all that puts your worried little brain at rest you can get one direct from the company's site or from a number of UK distributors. The basic system costs $119 (£75) or $199 (£125) for the smartcard version. Which is surely a small price to pay for your piece of mind.

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