The folks over at Yahoo! News have a review up on the Microsoft Print Reader; a biometric device that scans your fingerprint to verify your identity as opposed to logging in via the traditional user name and password.
Like other devices based on biometrics — the use of technology to recognize physical traits — the Microsoft reader scans the unique skin patterns on a finger. The device’s software keeps the image as a reference and bars others from triggering the automated passwords needed to access Web sites and computer programs.
Curiously, Microsoft warns that the Fingerprint Reader should not be trusted to secure access to corporate networks or to protect sensitive data, such as financial information.
Basically, the company says it’s about convenience, not security. That seems to rule out password-protected Web sites for credit cards, utilities, banking and others for which I might want to be spared having to remember and type a litany of passcodes.
In theory a fingerprint scanner should be a very secure way to validate users so I find it somewhat interesting that Microsoft doesn’t recommend using their new device for accessing corporate networks or protecting sensitive data. Considering that most systems would have to be modified to allowed a fingerprint scanner to work as an authentication device this suggests to me that this little toy just spits out related login and password information when the proper finger is scanned allowing it to interface with traditional systems and thus no more secure than typing things out by hand. That reduces it to something only the terminally lazy might be interested in. Or those with a serious James Bond fetish.