Cyber-Sign software package does biometric signature write

Cyber-Sign software package does biometric signature write

Cyber-Sign, easy to install and

Feel free to John Hancock your way onto a network, although complex signatures spell trouble

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff

Given the right equipment, your personal signature can sign you onto a network.

Just about every biometric verification device I've tested has an inherent weakness. The flaw usually does not grant access to illegitimate users, but it can and does keep out authorized users.

Take voice verification programs, which commonly break down when the user has a cold. Fingerprint readers do better, but a cut or burned finger might keep the user out until the skin heals.

I've even seen a high-end optical reader fooled by a pinkeye infection.

But when you're sick, a handwritten signature stays pretty much the same. How else could you sign checks for the doctor?

Cyber-Sign Inc. has come up with a software package that lets you sign your way onto a network, using any digitizing pad that comes with a pressure-sensitive pen.

Authorized users introduce themselves to Cyber-Sign Biometric Signature Verification by writing their names three times. If all three signatures match closely, the users receive two-digit access numbers that they must type before signing their way onto the network.

My signature is legible but messy. Cyber-Sign read it easily and logged me in.

Other signatures fared worse. One volunteer's John Hancock had seven elaborate and graceful loops that tripped up Cyber-Sign about half the time.

At the other end of the spectrum, acceptance peaked around 75 percent for a tester with a sparse signature consisting of a couple of wavy lines.

Smart move

The acceptance bar can be raised, but in my opinion it's unwise to dumb down the software's artificial intelligence. I experimented with changing the factory settings but quickly restored them after I accidentally dropped my pen while signing and got in.

Box Score''''

Cyber-Sign Biometric

Signature Verification

Cyber-Sign Inc., Newport Beach, Calif.;

tel. 714-223-8881

Price: $850 for 10 users; $35 per

additional user

Pros and cons:

+Easy to install and difficult to trick

'Complex signatures confuse the software

Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x and digitizing pad with pressure-sensitive pen

Cyber-Sign is quite strict in native mode. Although it sometimes does not let authorized users in, I could never get it to admit someone who was not supposed to have rights. As it examines a signature, it looks at the pressure of each pen stroke, the time taken to complete the signature and, of course, the appearance.'If any variable is off-key, it denies admittance.

I experimented by signing my own name slowly, as I imagined a forger would. The extra time caused Cyber-Sign to reject me.

I also recruited an acquaintance who signs her boss' name as part of her job. She could no longer get in after I made her boss an authorized user.

Although she reproduces his name on legal documents, she does not press down on exactly the same strokes as he does. Cyber-Sign analyzes a signature as a three-dimensional object that gets thicker when the signer presses down.

For extra security, users could sign in with a word or phrase instead of their names. I tested this theory and it worked fine, providing a sort of biometric password separate from the signature. Then again, signatures are so difficult to forge that such extras are probably unnecessary. '


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