Interview with Harvey Bondar, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Digital Persona

Introduce Digital Persona. When was the company started and with what mission?

Digital Persona was founded in 1996 with the intention to bring biometric (fingerprint authentication) to mainstream computing – across the commercial, developer and consumer markets.

What products and services does Digital Persona offer?

Digital Persona provides fingerprint authentication system for desktop, network and embedded applications. The company’s award-winning fingerprint recognition technology eliminates the need for passwords, PIN codes and cards. Users can securely and conveniently access sensitive information or conduct transactions with a simple touch of a finger. Password based identities are replaced with a more reliable form of digital identity. Digital Persona’s products are as follows:

U.are.U Personal – Designed for the home market, providing convenience and security. With the touch of a finger, U.are.U Personal provides Windows logon, Internet and application password replacement and file encryption.

U.are.U Pro – Designed for corporate and government networks. Allows administrators to control access to sensitive information (via laptop or desktop) and save the high costs associated with password management.

U.are.U Online – Enables individual user authentication for secure and convenient Internet transactions and communications.

U.are.U Integrator – Provides the building blocks to companies and system integrators that wish to develop products based on Digital Persona’s proprietary authentication technology. Developers benefit from the security, convenience, and product differentiation that Digital Persona technology provides. Over 200 companies are actively developing Digital Persona enabled applications.

How is the biometric security market evolving?

Biometric security is increasingly moving into the mainstream. The durability of the technology is market proven and cost considerations have entered the mainstream market. The value proposition for fingerprint authentication has matured – particularly in the face of rising password management costs and risks.

What are the current trends for fingerprint authentication?

Fingerprint authentication has become the biometric of choice – when compared to facial recognition or iris scanning for example. This is driven by its cost, performance and the advantages of user practicality. We will be seeing it migrate in two compatible directions – practical security in smaller and smaller devices and enterprise network security (driven by its return on investment).

Digital Persona’s products work on Microsoft Windows platforms. Are there any plans of supporting additional Operating Systems?

We support Microsoft Windows platforms as part of our core strategy. This is our “Out of the box strategy.” We already support a number of other platforms – this is driven by the custom needs of our customers.

What is your opinion on the recent pre-InfoSecurity Europe survey, which showed that 9 out of 10 UK office workers would give away their passwords in exchange for just a pen?

This survey clearly highlights that end-users are the weak link in the security chain. Whether they write down passwords on post-it notes, use their home street address (or favourite football team) as the device to remember their passwords; or share passwords as this study proves – they compromise the intent of corporate security measures. With fingerprint authentication, the burden of password management is lifted form the end-user, thereby eliminating the password oriented user practices that create the doorway to security breaches.

Digital Persona announced the integration of its fingerprint-based authentication technology with Microsoft Windows Server 2003. What can we expect from this partnership?

We have enjoyed a long and productive relationship with Microsoft. We are currently a ‘Managed Partner’ and call on prospects together. With Microsoft Server 2003, we integrate with Active Directory (AD). AD provides organisations with much greater flexibility in implementing Active Directory based solutions. Most importantly, a global schema change is no longer required. This allows department or divisional implementations without changing the Directory at a global corporate level. This will enable us to dramatically expand the market that is available for our solution as it removes an undesirable blocker to implementations.

What are Digital Persona’s plans for the future?

Digital Persona will continue to support and sell the products it has and in the coming weeks, we will be announcing a new product that will revolutionise mobile biometrics. This will accelerate an OEM strategy that we already see providing powerful dividends. Beyond that, our core focus will be on adding key functionality to the products we sell into the enterpise.

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