NEC's TouchPass boosts network security while speeding user access

NEC's TouchPass boosts network security while speeding user access

NEC Technology's TouchPass 2.0 provides a way to boost a network's security while giving users a password they don't have to remember and will never change.

TouchPass scans the user's fingerprint to create a mathematical image and uses the minutia data on the image to establish identity. Once registered, a user can log on with a touch from any machine on the network without entering a user name or password.

NEC, which developed the Automated Fingerprint Identification System used by law enforcement agencies across the country, introduced TouchPass last year for high-security systems.

The system is fully integrated with Microsoft Windows NT and works with Windows 95 and 98 clients. It comes with a scanner that's a bit larger than a computer mouse and software for both the server and client.

Setup is straightforward. The scanner plugs in to a parallel port or PC Card slot. The server software resides on NT's Domain Server.

To register a fingerprint, a user records three images, the clearest of which is then stored on NT's Security Account Manager database. Users can record any or all of their fingers for authentication, although one or two usually will do.

When scanning a fingerprint into TouchPass 2.0, a screen menu displays the image and will instruct the user if the finger is placed improperly.

As with other fingerprint devices, using the scanner takes a little practice. It requires fairly exact placement and pressure of the finger, but the software also helps you along. If your finger was not in the right place, the menu on the PC's screen tells you which direction to move. It also will notify you if you press too hard on the scanner.

Only seconds to verify

Once your fingerprint image has been enrolled and you've gotten used to using the scanner, logging on can become a breeze, verifying user access in a matter of seconds. Users also have the option of bypassing the fingerprint scan and using a password, but that process requires more steps than a traditional sign-on. TouchPass also adds security by encrypting the authentication messages.

TouchPass is priced at $1,000 for the server and $200 per user workstation, which is a pretty steep price for networks that don't need the tightest user security measures. But for agencies, bureaus and offices that need strict controls over access, NEC's TouchPass offers both a high level of security and easy access for registered users.

'Kevin McCaney

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