The SafeGuard Biometrics product is straightforward in concept and execution, making use of smartcard and biometric technology to provide strong identity verification for workstation and network access, as well as making the same functionality available to other services such as email clients and the use of certificates.
In its most basic form, you could think of it as replacing the Windows password logon function with a more robust biometric verification of the user. Other products do this, but the SafeGuard Biometrics approach is different. Firstly, the biometric template is stored on a smartcard that the user carries around, thus supporting roving users who may need to log on from various remote locations.
Secondly, the 'match on card' functionality is supported, whereby the matching of live sample with the stored biometric template can be undertaken on the card, ensuring that the reference biometric template never leaves the card.
Many will prefer this approach to one that sends their personal biometric template and live sample across a network for verification by a central matching engine. This is an elegant approach which places less reliance on the host PC or remote server for the critical matching process.
The smartcard and biometric reader supplied with SafeGuard Biometrics is the popular combined unit from Precise Biometrics in Sweden. This is a well-proven device, with many installations around the world in a variety of applications. It uses a capacitive fingerprint sensor, which works well in typical office environments. The enrollment process is straightforward and should present no difficulty for the majority of users.
In test, we had a minor driver problem due to a new range of readers coming on stream from Precise Biometrics. This was not serious, but allowed us to sample the support for this product in the U.K., which was fast, courteous and responsive. This is nice to know in relation to any product, but especially for a biometric product, which, as yet, might be unfamiliar territory to many systems administrators.
This product will probably appeal to systems administrators supporting an organizational network based on the Microsoft model, and looking to build in an extra layer of access security.
In this respect, it is a product worthy of serious consideration.