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Biometric fingerprints find new, mobile audience

The world has gone mobile faster than most people expected it would, resulting in security nightmares for CIOs. It is not uncommon for roaming employees to use multiple devices to gain access to sensitive information, with IT left to figure out how to federate identities.

One solution to this dilemma is identity management using biometric fingerprints and in particular, cloud-based biometric services.

Companies such as BIO-key International Inc. in Wall, N.J. are offering Identity Management as a Service, enabling enterprises to offload the verification process to the cloud. Biometric fingerprints are nothing new — BIO-key made a name in 1994 with its optical and fingerprint scanners — but 60% of personal computers now come with readers for biometric fingerprints, according to BIO-key CEO Mike DePasquale.

The next frontier is phones and personal digital assistants, according to DePasquale, who says BIO-key is working with LG Corp. and AT&T to provide authentication for such devices.

The BIO-key service downloads its software to a device and sends biometric fingerprints back to the vendor’s central server, where the fingerprint is transformed into a mathematical model.

The platform was used during Common Admission Test in India — the equivalent to the Graduate Management Admission Test in the U.S. — when 200,000 exam takers came and went over a 12-day period, checking in each time with their index fingers.

Identity management using biometric fingerprints is widely used in hospitals and by enterprises as part of their building security systems. As a service, it may well be one of the most convenient forms of user authentication for an increasingly mobile society.

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