Microsoft Fingerprint Reader on "24"
"24" is a great show - they hire top experts to make sure the reality based elements are consistent, and the information is believable. Well, the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader made an appearance on "24" as a prop and it was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time (in large part because I own the Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader). Here is the setup of today's episode (4:00 PM to 5:00 PM):
Maryanne Taylor (a terrorist collaborator) is in a holding cell at Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) headquarters. She tells Curtis Manning (a CTU agent) that she is able to provide information about the terrorist plot, but the information is stored on a highly secure computer with fingerprint scan access. In a very dramatic 24 moment, she reveals to Curtis that only two people have access to the computer (her and a dead terrorist). She has to have physical access to the computer to unlock the files. CTU prepares a large contingent of security and computer "experts" to extract the information from the computer with her help. Toting guns and equipment, they arrive on the scene as she places her finger on...yep, you guessed it: the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader...
Why is this funny? Well, here is an excerpt from the Microsoft Fingerprint Technology website: "The Fingerprint Reader should not be used for protecting sensitive data such as financial information or for accessing corporate networks. We continue to recommend that you use a strong password for these types of activities." The same warning was repeated a number of times in the instruction manual. These great little devices can be purchased for as little as $42.99 for pete's sake! And they can be hacked by Japanese security experts using Gummy Bears!
For a good dose of reality with regards to biometric devices, please check out this newsletter by Counterpane security expert Bruce Schneier.