Mouse with biometric and security features
By Subashini Selvaratnam
29th November 2001 (NST - Computimes)

DO you fancy using an optical mouse to safeguard your important files that are stored in the system's hard disk drive? An interesting technique, perhaps? Well, here's an optical mouse incorporates fingerprint-recognition technology to protect files from falling into the wrong hands. Called SecuTouch, it is developed by FirstTechnology, a Korean company.

At first glance, the SecuTouch looks just like any other regular mouse. You get the standard left and right buttons as well as the little wheel, which is built between the two buttons. The latter is useful for scrolling long information without moving the mouse itself.

What makes SecuTouch unique from the rest is the biometric feature which can be used for verifying the identity of the end user. Here, end users can record their fingerprints by pressing the sensor built into the centre of SecuTouch. This is done by using the driver which is supplied with the SecuTouch.

There are three options for verification provided by the driver. It's either password, fingerprint or both. As for fingerprints, users are allowed to store up to three fingerprints.

Once programmed, each time the system is started, any one of these three authentication methods will be prompted to the end user. This is done to verify the identity of the owner.

In a Windows network environment, an end user is prompted for username and password when he or she starts the system.

As most of us know, the end user can "bypass" these formalities (depending on the network configuration), and yet access the resources in the system or network.

In this scenario, an unauthorised personnel can easily access the system and create havoc by destroying sensitive files or conduct other malicious activities. Obviously, this is not a secure way to protect the system. This is where SecuTouch becomes useful. Once the system is started, the end user is prompted for his or her fingerprint.

When the system has verified and accepted the fingerprint, the end user is greeted with the usual login box. From here on, the end user can carry out the normal formalities that have been given by the network administrator.

When the system goes on stand-by mode and the screensaver is displayed on the monitor, the driver will prompt you to enter your fingerprint again for verification. This ensures that the files are protected and safe, relieving the end user from any anxiety.

With the fingerprint-recognition technology, an end user is able to encrypt or decrypt sensitive files like financial reports, hence making this yet another security feature. This is to ensure that information is read by only authorised personnel, thus preventing it from falling into the wrong hands.

Home users, especially parents, will find this feature extremely useful as it safeguards their files from accidental erasure by their children.

You do not have to worry about installing SecuTouch in your system. This Universal Serial Bus-based device is instantly detected once plugged into the USB port of the system.

Just follow the on-screen instructions to install the driver. Restart the system and enter the default username and password. Upon completion, you can change or add end users should you want to share the system with two or more people.

Despite the benefits offered, the SecuTouch is not without flaws. For example, when setting up new users, the driver accepted the username and password fields as null.

This is probably a security flaw because this approach is no different from having to install the SecuTouch. Perhaps a better approach is for the driver to alert the end user to enter a username and password before proceeding to the next step.

Another shortcoming is that the driver failed to detect duplicate usernames. With an updated version of the driver, this problem can be solved.

With its biometric and security features, the SecuTouch should be on your shopping list to safeguard the data in your computer.