The Fit Factor

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2001-11-19 Print this article Print

The Fit Factor

The tough and costly part of implementing biometrics, or any security scheme, centers on how well the authentication database fits into a companys overall security management system. The Authenticam is designed to protect local machines, so it cannot authenticate users across a network without a third-party solution.

For that, Iridian offers the KnowWho database, a separate Windows NT-based solution that accepts iris images from the PrivateID software included with the Authenticam. The KnowWho database (built on either Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle Corp.s namesake database) handles processing and enrollment of all iris images. It features a software development kit that allows the database to connect into single-sign-on authentication systems from other vendors, such as Computer Associates International Inc.s eTrust.

I/O Software SecureSuite in the Authenticam package is a good security suite with only a so-so implementation. The user interface is functional but can be annoying. SecureSuite includes User Manager for adding users, modifying log-in profiles (password, iris recognition or both), and profiles for how users interact with SecureSession applications (SecureSession is a "password vault" for logging into secure Web sites.)

The same User Manager application is both a Control Panel item and an application, and it can be launched from the Windows tool bar.

When enrolling users, SecureSuite required us to create a new administrator account that supposedly supplants the original administrator account. On systems with more than one log-in account, administrators must migrate users into SecureSuite. This is an easy process, and it allows all named users to have access to SecureSuites enhanced log-in functions that include access to the PrivateID iris recognition.

Unfortunately, we were unable to migrate our original administrator account—which may not matter. Applications that replace security settings in an operating system will without fail cause IT administrators to raise their eyebrows.

eWeek Labs Director John Taschek can be reached at

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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