Today's average internet user has around 200 digital accounts, along with all the associated passwords. And this figure keeps rising. However, managing all these passwords in a responsible way isn't necessarily a priority for everyone.
The Dashlane password manager clearly corroborates this finding with real-life examples: An employee of the White House, for example, didn't just write down his log-in data on his employer's official stationary, but also left this piece of paper lying around at a bus stop by accident in the American capital Washington D.C.
At the start of 2018, when cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin were soaring to astronomical values of up to US $20,000 per unit, many people who owned this digital currently wanted to convert their digital wealth into cold hard cash. However, there were, unfortunately, quite a few people who, despite their best efforts, were no longer able to remember the log-in data for their cryptowallets. A number of them felt forced to resort to some rather unconventional methods to overcome their password amnesia, consulting a hypnotist to access the data in question. Whether these attempts ended up being fruitful was not, however, revealed by the Dashlane report.
And to return to the White House: The US-American rapper Kanye West, husband of 'It girl' Kim Kardashian, while attending a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, impressively demonstrated everything that you can do wrong when it comes to passwords: When he decided to show Trump a picture on his smartphone, there were dozens of TV cameras present zooming in on how he unlocked his device. And they left no room for doubt – his PIN code could be recognised as six zeroes (000000).
Now we don't want to assume that all users are as ham-handed as the rapper, or as careless as the White House employee. Nonetheless, the processes required to generate passwords that really are secure are too tedious for many users, and the lax attitude taken to them ends up becoming a source of innumerable corporate security scares. Of course, while not configuring a password isn't always an option, there are still plenty of other means of authentication. Biometrics are, for example, a method of authentication that utilises biological features such as an individual's fingerprint, eye iris, or voice to identify users. In doing so, a biometric scanner scans a user's biological features – such as the user's fingerprint – converting the result into digital information and, in turn, allowing a computer to identify and verify it.
Everywhere that access to a company's own IT infrastructure demands verification due to a high security level, multi-factor authentication by means of biometric authentication processes or smartcards becomes advisable.
Another area in which biometric certification procedures can be used is for single sign-on (SSO). This form of log-in, which only requires the user to log in once, gives the user access to several services and resources following one single authentication process. This makes logging in to different services separately unnecessary. It boosts employees' productivity considerably, because the input of a large number of, or particularly complex, passwords is no longer required.
This is of particular interest for users in the technology, trade or healthcare industries. These employees often use their PCs in kiosk mode, however would still like to have the desktop they are accustomed to appear on the workstations within seconds, providing all the functions necessary without having to waste time ending active Windows sessions and starting up new ones.
Biometric authentication by means of a fingerprint using an input device – in this case a mouse – lends itself to all these usage scenarios. And this form of authentication is becoming more and more popular – just think of the biometric log-in process introduced with Windows 10. CHERRY, for one, is catering to this trend by adding a wired, 3-button mouse with an integrated fingerprint sensor to its product range: the Cherry MC 4900. The company also provides the proof that technology like this does not have to be complicated: After installing the Windows Biometric Framework driver, which is available from the CHERRY website, you can log in to Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 using your fingerprint. A focus has also been placed on comfort: Featuring a perfectly symmetrical shape, the mouse is suited for right-handed and left-handed users in equal measure.
The MC 4900 is easy to connect to any PC with a USB port using Plug&Play, and no time-consuming software downloads are necessary. Together with the integrated fingerprint sensor, full compatibility with Windows Hello is ensured, with no additional application required. This makes it convenient and secure for Windows 10 users to log on to their device using their fingerprint and without having to enter a password.
The touch chip sensor ensures fast and secure authentication, and the fingerprint function also makes the MC 4900 suitable for professional use at corporate workplaces and at public authorities. And when you think about what happened to the White House employee mentioned above, it really does make it seem like a very good idea. There's also an economic aspect to it as well: Organisations like this in particular can save themselves a large number of stand-alone readers by using the mouse, because the function is already integrated into the mouse. There's another feature of this mouse which provides support when saving the fingerprint data in the mouse itself. This feature must, however, be compatible with the software.
Biometric authentication using fingerprints isn't alchemy, and can certainly help to lessen the frustration that comes with passwords – at least to an appreciable extent.