NASA Goddard launches biometric security product tests

NASA Goddard launches biometric security product tests

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

JAN. 8—Software engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are starting to evaluate biometric log-in products for securing remote mission operations.

Testing will start around Jan. 15 on a product that scans faces and fingerprints, said John Donohue, associate head of Goddard's Real-Time Software Engineering Branch in Greenbelt, Md.

Goddard scientists and technicians now use a combination of passwords and key cards to secure user accounts and computer rooms. But remote access presents security worries for systems that perform critical functions such as controlling unmanned spacecraft.

'If someone uses your key card, I can't tell,' Donohue said. 'It's harder to spoof your face and finger.'

Donohue's group will start by evaluating the speed and reliability of the eTrue authentication service from eTrue Inc. of Southborough, Mass. The start-up service provides authentication peripherals, such as small cameras and fingerprint scanners, and stores users' biometric data on servers hosted by Exodus Communications Inc. of Waltham, Mass.

Donohue said he expects the eTrue evaluation to take 30 days, after which the staff will test products from other vendors. It will probably be a couple of years before biometric technology goes into wide use at the space center, he said.

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