Security Web Digest: Windows Biometrics, Passport Chips, Government/Private Cooperation ... and More

Windows biometric support to include base API... Most Internet security companies show good results... DirecTV IP thief could get probation... and more from around the web


AuthenTec, a maker of fingerprint-recognition sensors, announced on Monday that it signed a deal with Microsoft to integrate software support for biometrics into the Windows operating system. AuthenTec will create a reference driver that will be the example for other biometric hardware makers to follow in designing their own driver software. In addition, a new application programming interface (API) will allow software to access new hardware features made available through the drivers, said Michael Stephenson, lead product manager for Microsofts Windows server group.

The UK Passport Service (UKPS) confirmed plans to put biometric chips into passports by 2005. The UKPS plans to run a six-month trial with a systems integrator to evaluate issues around biometric capture using iris, facial recognition and fingerprints to support the passport card development program. The agency said that developing a passport card, improving electronic application channels and rolling out new databases to improve security are some of its key tasks


The Internet security software group turned out some pretty solid results in the quarter that ended Mar. 31, according to Jonathan Rudy, analyst at Standard & Poors. Of the sector names in Standard & Poors universe, only one, Internet Security Systems, warned that it would miss the consensus revenue estimates, by about 6%, yet it managed to hit the consensus earnings per share estimate. Another one, Network Associates, sold off sharply after reporting revenue about 5% below our expectations, and EPS that was a penny below estimates. The other three, Check Point Software, Symantec, and RSA Security, had very solid first-quarter performances.

The changing of the cybersecurity guard at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), coupled with complacency on the part of some corporate executives, has put a higher premium on information-sharing and cooperation between the private sector and the government. A lack of effective communication between the corporate community and government agencies has left companies trying to assess their risk with little or no understanding of the threat, said Michael Hershman, president and CEO of Decision Strategies. "Corporations in America have spent billions of dollars for security, with very little cost-benefit analysis," said Hershman. He noted that the Bush administration has only added to the confusion regarding who is ultimately responsible for critical infrastructure security by assigning responsibility to industry while issuing more than 60 regulations since Sept. 11, 2001.

NeoScale Systems announced last week that it raised $12 million in a second round of funding, led by Sevin Rosen Funds. The security appliance maker has raised a total of $25.5 million to date.

Trade Secrets

A University of Chicago student pleaded guilty Monday to stealing trade secrets of DirecTVs most advanced anti-piracy technology, which later surfaced on a hacker Web site. Igor Serebryany, 19, could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison, but the plea deal recommends probation, said Nina Marino, Serebryanys attorney. Prosecutors were also seeking up to $146,000 in restitution to DirecTV Inc., Marino said. Serebryany admitted stealing digital copies of hundreds of secret documents pertaining to DirecTVs most advanced access card while he was working in the Los Angeles office of a law firm representing the satellite programming provider, according to the U.S. attorneys office.