Clumsy MI5 agents and former home secretaries who leave their computers in the back of taxis will draw comfort from a new laptop that comes with integrated biometric security.
The GT9000 Pro, from Korean hardware giant Samsung, comes with a built-in fingerprint scanner, provided by ST Micro, that can be configured to boot up only when the owner has their fingerprint authorised by the scanner.
"As the mobile business worker becomes a reality, desktop replacements need to take additional requirements such as enhanced security into consideration," said Peter Lunn, Samsung notebook marketing manager.
The laptop also has additional support for multiple users with encrypted data folders, so one user would not be able to look at another's folder when logged in.
By replacing personal identification numbers (PINs), biometric techniques can potentially prevent unauthorised access to, or fraudulent use of, desktop PCs, workstations and computer networks.
Studies by Gartner earlier this year indicate that biometrics is going to be one of the hottest technologies in the next few years.
Many enterprises have expressed an interest in using the technology but have balked at buying-in peripherals to do the job. Up until now, the only laptops on the market that have integrated fingerprint scanning have been from Acer and Compaq.
But security experts gave the innovation a mixed reception. "It ain't the answer to the maiden's prayer," said Neil Barratt, technical director at security consultants, IRM.
"Simply having fingerprint-scanner-enabled access to the Bios is fun but not a complete solution to the security of data."
While the security agencies haven't beaten a path to Samsung's door, Lunn reported some interest from other quarters.
"Our resellers have had some interest in the notebooks from a couple of police forces for use in scene-of-crime investigations," he said.
Samsung is looking to extend the technology to all but its most basic laptops by the middle of next year.
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