IBM's Finger on Notebook Security

Monday Oct 4th 2004 by Lauren Simonds
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The IBM ThinkPad T42 sports the latest in data security &#151 a fingerprint scanner.

Small business owners know that it's all too easy to lose a notebook PC out on the road. Replacing the notebook isn't the worst of it &#151 it's the lost data on the notebook that causes the most pain.

Even if you don't lose the data because you're one of the few who actually take the time to back up your portable data, do you really want your company information freely accessible to anyone who steals your notebook?

IBM'scome up with a solution to that problem. Today the company announced its first ThinkPad notebook with integrated biometric protection in the form of a fingerprint scanner.

Combined with the company's Embedded Security System (ESS) security chip, the fingerprint scanner provides what IBM calls an unmatched level of data protection.

ThinkPad T42
You'll find the fingerprint scanner on select models of the ThinkPad T42. According to Clain Anderson, an IBM program director, the scanner replaces almost all passwords and logons. "One swipe of a finger takes care of Passwords for powering-on, hard drive access and Windows," says Anderson.

IBM has also improved its ESS by preloading an updated, secure Password manager on the T42. "The Password Manager is tied to the fingerprint scanner," says Anderson.

"Through it you can manage and access logons and Passwords for your applications such as eBay, retirement accounts, banking, VPN and Lotus Notes. It also guards your notebook from unauthorized access."

Fran O'Sullivan, an IBM general manager, says "The first biometric ThinkPad combines a fingerprint reader with an Embedded Security Subsystem, providing a layer of security that is built in, not bolted on."

Scan My Finger
The fingerprint scanner lets you scan up to 20 fingers for the boot-up process and up to 10 fingers for the Password Manager. The device scans each finger three times and then averages the fingerprint patterns.

Anderson points out that &#151 as an additional security feature &#151 the fingerprint image patterns are not stored on the T42's hard drive.

You'll find the tiny fingerprint scanner located on the right-hand side of the wrist rest just below the arrow keys.

SafeGuard Easy
Adding yet another layer of data security, IBM also announced that select models of the T42 will come preloaded with SafeGuard Easy, a software program from Utimaco that can encrypt every bit of data on your hard drive.


The fingerprint scanner on IBM's ThinkPad T42
IBM adds fingerprint security to its ThinkPad T42 notebook.

"IBM worked with the company to develop a version modified to work with IBM's Rescue and Recovery software," says Anderson.

"It's a nifty product to protect SMB data," he says. "SafeGuard Easy makes a stolen notebook useless."

Pricing and Availability
The ThinkPad T42 will be available starting October 19 at IBM Direct and through its channel partners. The price for a ThinkPad T42 with a fingerprint reader starts at $1,699.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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