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Monday, 14 March 2011

Biometric Security

It is a fact that we consultants get through quite a few laptops each year.  They get broken or dropped or in extreme cases both, particularly if they lock-up. 

I previously had a netbook, which is great for collecting email when on the move, light to transport and small in size. Where it falls down is the small screen and keyboard which makes working on anything other than simple word processing a complete pain.  Its very small size also meant that additional data storage, either SD cards or USB sticks were necessary to store any decent amount of data.  A security nightmare if not handled correctly.  I must say that the netbook was a rebound from the HP 19 inch laptop I had before that; the large size was easy to use but it was very heavy to carry, especially on aeroplanes.

I decided to go for something in-between and plumped for a Lenovo 410i ThinkPad.  Easy to use and I don’t get a hernia carrying it around.  A good feature is the Lap-top "airbag system" which protects the hard drive from damage due to hard bumps, etc.   It also has an impressive security system which includes a fingerprint scanner.  It requires a scan of a fingerprint to power the system on and access any files.

I started off using the index finger of my right hand but after doing some DIY at home I noticed that it rejected my finger swipe for ages before finally accepting it.  It turns out that the reader is very sensitive and my finger had suffered from the DIY and would not scan.   Armed with this knowledge I decided to use the index finger of my left hand instead.  This is Ok except first thing in the morning when obviously, my hands are a bit swollen and again the fingerprint is rejected.  Putting my hand in cold water seems to do the trick.

I am a firm believer that security is a compromise.  Extreme security means you do nothing but very securely and lax security means that you do everything but it is risky.  Something in between is needed.

I will stick with the fingerprint reader as first level security and then use my favourite encryption system, Folder Lock, on my data.  In my business I cannot afford to lose data and the small inconvenience of repeated scanning is only a mild annoyance and gives me some peace of mind.

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