Fingerprint USB drives are one of the two main types of secure memory sticks that are deployed by the storage industry to face the catastrophic data leaks of the last decade.
Although affordable and secure USB flash drives are already available at affordable prices, millions of records are still lost every year by hospitals and psychiatric facilities, government agencies and universities. In 2009, 1.5 million Health Net clients went missing in the United States because of a lost flash drive. In 2008, a United Kingdom government employee dropped an unsecured thumb drive outside of a pub. It contained National Insurance numbers and credit card information for 12 million people!
Biometric USB flash memory is one approach to security. Another method is to use passwords. Detractors of the technology acknowledge that fingerprint USB products are certainly more convenient to use than password-protected flash. The convenience of fingerprint USB flash drives is soon forgotten, however, in light of some pitfalls. In fact, those drives are vulnerable to spoofing by counterfeit gummy fingers. Japanese researchers in the Graduate School of Environmental and Information Science at Yokohama National University have created gummy fingers that spoof scanners at an 80% success rate.
Recently, an Indian company has launched a “biometric” drive to store confidential data in a more secured manner. Even if the drive is lost, nobody else can access your data, says the company behind the product. Launched by Moser Baer India Ltd., it comes with a built-in software that the company says will protect your data by setting a password. It also only works if you imprint your finger making it impossible to be replicated, the company says.
So, how does it work? The first time you use it, you plug the drive to a computer, set a username and password, and swipe your fingerprint three times on the biometric sensor strip to install.The drive sells for 4,000 rupees ($63.36 US), and its launch comes at a time when competition is heating up with more companies launching USB flash drives with fingerprint technology. In fact SanDisk Corp., Kingston Technology Co. Inc. and Taiwan’s Transcend Information Inc. also offer similar products.