Maintaining secure passwords that your employees can remember and won't write down, misplace or pass along to someone else can be a major headache for many small businesses. And a costly one at that, too, in terms of tech support calls and down time for employees who can't access the company network because they've lost or forgotten their password.
Saflink, a 15-year-old, Kirkland, Wash.-based company that specializes in password replacement solutions, estimates that small companies with 100 employees typically spend between $100 to $150 per employee per year to maintain passwords. That works out to between $10,000 and $15,000 every year.
The company also thinks that it has a cure for password-induced cranial pain. Saflink's EntryPoint 2.0 is a biometrics -based security appliance that replaces passwords with biometric devices such as USB thumb drive tokens or fingerprint scanners (version 1.0 allowed the use of the thumb drives. The new version adds the scanners to the mix for more flexibility. Saflink calls this enhancement module EP-Biometric).
This biometric solution, Saflink claims, lets small businesses increase productivity and network security without sacrificing convenience. "EntryPoint works with the Microsoft Windows Active Directory, and by replacing the Windows logon password with a stronger form of authentication and a biometric device, small businesses gain better, more affordable control over who accesses their networks," said Brian Wilchusky, Saflink's senior director of product marketing.
He added that The EntryPoint solution was designed specifically for small businesses and represents one of the first affordable biometric solutions for that market. "Just because a business is small doesn't reduce its need for a secure network. Small companies have the same security worries as big businesses but without the benefit of a big budget," said Wilchusky.
EntryPoint consists of the hardware appliance a stand-alone, 1U, rack-mountable device client software and at least one fingerprint reader. The appliance connects to the network, and the client software is installed on each computer.
EntryPoint 2.0 also offers EP-Connect, a module that lets companies add biometric authentication to their remote access infrastructure. Remote workers can use the biometric devices instead of passwords to access the network over a VPN and Microsoft Outlook Web Access.
Wilchusky said that EntryPoint also supports the use of PIN numbers and that companies can use any combination of PINs, USB thumb drives or fingerprint scanners to add layers of security. "Depending on a company's specific needs, it can use multi-factor authentication to provide layers of security across the organization," he said.
In addition to replacing the password for the Windows logon, EntryPoint can provide additional security by keeping unauthorized people from accessing a notebook or a workstation. "EntryPoint is a network-access solution, but it can provide protection for say, a laptop, too," said Wilchusky. "It's not a true file/folder encryption product, but if the administrator is enforcing an EntryPoint USB token for logon, no one else will be able to logon to the machine without the right token. This adds an additional level of security beyond just network access."
Saflink will sell EntryPoint 2.0 through VAR channels and expects product to be available at the end of July. The company suggests that VARs charge the following for the EntryPoint solution (prices may vary according to the individual reseller):
- 10 seats: $4,500
- 50 seats: $6,495
- 100 seats: $9,295
- 150 seats: $11,795
- 200 seats: $14,295
Saflink's MSRP for product support (which includes updates): $10 per person, per year.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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