U.are.U Fingerprint Security System
By Joel Shore
might be able to guess your password, but they’ll never be able to
fake your fingerprint. And that, friends, is what security is all
Of all the products I’ve seen designed specifically for Windows XP,
the U.are.U Personal security system from Digital Persona is a sure
way to keep your files, logon IDs, and passwords completely private. For a mere $69, this is one security solution that’s a steal.
Designed by a company that specializes in big-time, industrial and
financial security systems, this little gizmo is the best way yet to
switch quickly among the different user accounts that you’ve probably
set up for each family member on your Windows XP-based PC.
If you share a PC, the U.are.U fingerprint identification system is a
great way to keep your private files private.
The 2-inch-square U.are.U Personal Sensor with its distinctive red
oval scanning window plugs into the USB port of your PC and sits
unobtrusively on your desktop. Keep in mind, that this product
requires Windows XP (Home or Professional Edition) and a USB port.
Windows Me, 2000, 98, or 95 are not acceptable.
Installation of the device and software is pretty easy. A wizard
guides you through the process of plugging in the sensor, installing
the software, and registering the finger scans of all those who have
accounts on the PC. This last step is key. Just as
speech-recognition software must be trained to learn your particular vocal patterns,
so too do you train U.are.U to recognize your fingerprint.
Two things about U.are.U are really cool. One is that it lets you use
your fingerprint for all those different Web sites you visit but which
require you to enter an ID and password. When you set up the software,
you can enter your favorite Web addresses and the associated
user name and password. Later, when you want to visit that site, plunk
your finger down in the little red window and you’re on your way. Not
only is that a great timesaver, but now you can use smarter security by
actually having a different password for every site. Besides, using
the dog’s name as the password on every site you visit wasn’t too
smart to begin with.
wizard walks you through the process of capturing your
fingerprint. This master image is then encrypted, stored, and
compared with the “live” fingerprint
presented each time a user attempts to log on.
Here’s the other thing that’s so cool. U.are.U is radio-based instead
of infrared. Why’s that important? Well, think about the remote
control from your TV. It’s infrared. That means it has to have an open
“line of sight” to the little window in the front of the TV that
receives the signal. But with radio waves, you don’t have to worry
about line of sight. In fact, I tucked the little receiver unit behind
my monitor, out of sight and out of harm’s way. Way cool.
PROFILES IN SECURITY
Windows XP takes security on a shared PC to a new level by creating
individual profiles with personalized settings for everyone using the
system. Its “Fast User Switching” feature allows users to switch
profiles without shutting down their applications and logging off.
U.are.U Personal is native-code-compatible with Windows XP and makes
switching from one user profile to the next faster, more convenient
and more secure. Users can switch to their account from another with
the touch of a finger, eliminating password entry and additional menu
You’ve got to keep the little window clean. Naturally, each user
leaves a fingerprint behind. The system is smart enough to ignore that
leftover “latent image” when the next user comes along. But if you
want to use this so the kids can play their games and not endanger
your own documents and other files, you’d make sure those thumbs are
free of peanut butter, maple syrup, and hot fudge residue. U.are.U
won’t be happy.
I tried one experiment to fool U.are.U. I applied my fingerprint to a
piece of plastic kitchen wrap and then placed it in the device’s window.
That didn’t work. Thank goodness.
If all it did was save you from typing your Windows XP password, the
U.are.U could be dismissed as a clever but frivolous accessory. But
link it with its ability to serve all the users on your PC, and its
talent for remembering the user names and passwords to your favorite
Web sites, and you’ve got something truly useful. Reference Guide
recommends the U.are.U fingerprint security system.<