Louisiana spices up security with fingertip log-ons

Louisiana's Public Safety Department has installed 1,100 BioTouch USB 200 fingerprint log-in devices for network security.

The Louisiana Public Safety Department has tightened its network log-in security by installing 1,100 fingerprint readers and software from Identix Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn.

The new network log-in process came at the same time the department is migrating to a Microsoft Active Directory framework and Windows 2000 network operating system.

Project leader Dennis Weber said the first phase of the migration was huge because it required moving offices and buying new Dell Computer Corp. PCs for 90 percent of the employees.

The PCs range in speed from 700 MHz to 1.4 GHz and have Universal Serial Bus ports to connect the optical fingerprint scanners.

Identix's BioTouch USB 200 'was a breeze to install,' Weber said. The computers also had to have Identix's BioLogon software installed to work with BioTouch devices.

An extra finger

Even for first-time users, capturing fingerprints was easy, Weber said. A software wizard walked them through enrolling not one but two of their fingerprints.

'You need a backup finger in case one gets injured,' he said.

After enrollment, the workers log in by typing an ID and placing a finger on the BioTouch device. 'Voil', you're in,' Weber said.

The BioLogon software analyzes so-called minutiae, or characteristics, of a fingerprint and points where the minutiae intersect, said Frances Zelazny, director of corporate communications for Identix.

One reason the department chose BioLogon was because it works with Active Directory under Microsoft Windows NT, Win 2000 or Win XP.

In the second phase, Identix products will be installed on 1,100 more PCs.

'The likelihood of someone knowing your password and having your fingerprint is pretty remote,' Zelazny said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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