Starting as cool give-aways, easily brandable and not taking too much space, USB sticks have developed into quite efficient means of carrying data to and from PCs. As numbers of mobile employees and freelancers numbers increase, fast and easy means of carrying information around gains more attention. And with that attention the threats of having proprietary information and private details lost and stolen increases.
As endpoint security evolves, so do protection forms, varying more and embedding the latest technology. So why would a USB stick need biometrics, if passwords and data encryption are already available? To answer that question, we first need to better define biometrics. The term covers the study of methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits. According to Wikipedia, there are two major categories used to divide biometric traits:
- physiological – related to the shape of the body. The oldest traits, that have been used for over 100 years, are fingerprints. Other examples are face recognition, hand geometry and iris recognition.
- behavioral – related to the behavior of a person. The first characteristic to be used and still very popular today is the signature. More modern approaches are the study of keystroke dynamics and of voice.
So, what is so special about biometrics-based authentication? It is believed to be impossible to reproduce or forge. Besides, you don’t have to worry about misplacing the encryption key or forgetting the 8 character password you cleverly invented.
That is of course an amazing idea to keep your data safe if you are not part of the group that believes stories in spy movies are true. We’ve all seen passwords of 6 alphanumeric characters broken in less than a minute, haven’t we? Or eyes being remade and fingerprints “printed” within seconds.