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Flesh-and-Blood Biometrics



With technological innovations in biometrics such as venous palm scanning, the time may be coming when biometrics actually meets user expectations. Assuming that a fix is in the works for issues surrounding performance in extreme cold, palm-based venous scanning could be a viable biometric technique. It's less susceptible to the effects of injury and aging than most competing technologies, and since the scanner does not require contact with its surface, it's less prone to smudging and dirt.

Fujitsu is the only vendor pursuing palm-based venous scanning, with others, such as Hitachi, working on finger venous scanning and still others, including Schlage Recognition Systems, doing hand topology verification.

For securing access to restricted areas, palm-based venous scanning could free your IT staff from the burden of access card maintenance. Such a technology is also useful for systems needing tightly controlled physical access; requiring a hand scan as part of logon makes the system less prone to casual administrator mischief and virtually guarantees that the person typing the password is actually the appropriate individual. For critical systems, this can be very important.

The high-tech industry has a love-hate relationship with biometrics. We know passwords aren't good enough--they aren't changed often and are prone to theft both through social engineering and electronic attacks. We need an authentication factor that is unique to each user, but biometrics have fallen short of expectations and so have languished on a back shelf.

A new development in biometrics--one that uses venous palm scanning--could bring it to the forefront and to a restricted door in your enterprise. And Fujitsu's PalmSecure, which uses this new method, could be an excellent security product for those who need a two-factor authentication that is nearly impossible to fool.

PalmSecure has an acceptable accuracy rate and, since the device requires blood flow, addresses a rather macabre and possibly paranoid concern about biometrics--that criminals could sever body parts and use them to gain access to a restricted area or network. As a fixed-entry system, PalmSecure could work well. The drawbacks to such a system cannot be ignored, though. Cold temperatures could delay the time for authentication.

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