Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Biometrics: Getting Back to Business

People and passwords—in the long run, they just don't work very effectively together. At least that's what Phil Fowler, vice president of IT at Telesis Community Credit Union, a Chatsworth, Calif.-based financial services provider that manages $1.2 billion in assets, found out. His team ran a network password cracker as part of an enterprise security audit last year to see if employees were adhering to Telesis' password policies. They weren't.

"Within 30 seconds, we had identified probably 80% of people's passwords," says Fowler, whose group immediately asked employees to create strong passwords that adhered to the security requirements. A few days later, the team ran the password cracker again: This time, they cracked 70%.

"We couldn't get [employees] to maintain strong passwords, and those that did forgot them, so the help desk would have to reset them," says Fowler. Telesis decided to secure network and application access with a biometric system that eliminated the need for user IDs and passwords, opting for the DigitalPersona fingerprint system from DigitalPersona Inc. in Redwood City, Calif.

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