IF DIGITAL IMPERSONATORS are trying to swipe your electronic files or break into your computer network, you may want to enhance your security by installing a fingerprint verification system. The software records your fingerprint and allows you to use it as a password for files, networks or online transactions. Image: JOHN FRASER
Like many children of the 1960s, I have long entertained James Bond fantasies. While walking to work in midtown Manhattan, I often imagine myself as an agent for the British intelligence service, hunting down Dr. No or Goldfinger or Blofeld as the silhouettes of beautiful women dance languidly in the background. I drink vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred), and I would certainly drive an Aston Martin if I could afford one.
I recently got a chance to act out my spy dreams after I learned about a new class of fingerprint security systems that can work with your PC or laptop. These relatively inexpensive devices can protect your own top-secret electronic files by recording your fingerprint--any finger or thumb will do--on a small sensor attached by a USB line to your computer. Thereafter anyone seeking to open the files must place a finger on the sensor; if the print does not match the recorded data, access is denied. Fingerprint authentication can also provide an extra level of security when you're conducting transactions on the Internet. And the technology can stop hackers from breaking into corporate or government networks, because it's a lot harder to steal a finger than a password.
This article was originally published with the title Security at Your Fingertips.