- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

You wouldn't think automatically flushing a toilet and securing information on a computer would have a lot in common but they do.
Access Denied Systems(www.accessdeniedsystems.com) of St. Louis has taken the red-eye proximity reader technology commonly used in public restrooms and combined it with keyless door-entry cards and fingerprint scanners to create the Bio Proximity Security System.
When an authorized user approaches a workstation or enters an office and moves to within a predetermined range (up to 30 feet) of a mounted sensor, the person is identified by a radio-frequency-cued badge. The user must then authenticate himself or herself with a fingerprint to access the computer. As soon as that person leaves the area, the computer automatically shuts down, the keyboard locks, and the system secures.
"During the 2002 Fosse computer show in Washington, D.C., we held a very informal survey of participants most of which were ranking government officials asking only two questions their position within their office and if they secured their computer when they left for lunch every day," says Sidney Furst, President of Access Denied Systems.
"We were not really surprised to find out that 98 percent of those responding said that no, they did not secure their computer, or its information, when leaving for this extended period of time."
The familiar, yet modified, technologies that are the backbone of the Bio Proximity Security System, in addition to the red-eye proximity reader, are keyless systems like the ones used in many offices, hotels and airports, which work when an authorized user's badge triggers a door's opening; and a simple fingerprint scanner that can, within a third of a second, determine whether the fingerprint belongs to the badge holder. Together, these technologies create a fairly high-tech, extremely secure locking system that not only keeps the data on a computer safe, but also renders the computer useless if it is stolen.
"The need for this system evolved in my working with health care agencies creating data-management software," Mr. Furst says. "One of the [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] requirements is that every health care provider from doctor's office to hospital floor nurses' station must protect from unauthorized access all information or data that is kept on an individual desktop PC or a large hospital-wide network.
"Unfortunately, just giving employees a user name and password doesn't work. When there is a patient emergency, few are going to take the time to shut down their computer."
For $250, the user gets a base unit that attaches to the serial port on the computer, a badge containing a miniature transmitter that constantly emits a unique and encoded identifier, a fingerprint reader that attaches to the USB port, and software. The system supports Windows 2000 and XP operating systems.
The Bio Proximity Security System software even keeps track of users through a log and can be programmed to allow access only to a particular software program on a computer.
Access Denied Systems also has developed the CyberKey, which gives several authorized users of a single workstation access when the device is inserted into the computer's USB port. The key can have an encrypted memory from 8MB to 2GB and acts sort of like a removable hard drive so users can lock down files without having to carry the information on storage devices.
When the key is removed from the USB port, the computer screen blanks out and the mouse and keyboard are locked. Depending on the amount of memory required, the CyberKey system, compatible with Windows 2000 and XP operating systems, can range from around $60 for 15 MB storage space to more than $1,000 for the 2 GBs of storage.
"With computers becoming smarter and easier to operate, combined with the types of fraud and the bravado of those committing it from the employee who issued phony bills that were eventually paid to himself, to a Cisco employee that issued $6 million in stock in his own name companies of all sizes need to think about how to protect their trade secrets, client lists and financial systems," Mr. Furst says.
"In the end, both of these thieves could have easily been locked out of the systems that held this information."
Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington DC, 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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