More than fingerprints
Using your fingerprint to log into your PC is like using a password; there’s only one thing that you need to have or to know to get access. This is called single-factor authentication. Adding more factors makes for a more secure system, but that’s more complicated to set up and to use. Two-factor authentication might ask for a fingerprint and a PIN code, or for a fingerprint plus a smartcard that stores the fingerprint template; three-factor authentication would mean you’d need to scan your finger, swipe the smartcard and type in the PIN to get access. The different factors are sometimes referred to as something you are, something you have and something you know.
Most PC fingerprint readers use your fingerprint alone, but the $50 BioCert PCLokR Pro lets you add a password, PIN, smartcard or a mix of factors. That’s not as convenient as just swiping your finger, and it’s probably overkill for a home user, but the BioCert software will generate strong passwords for you, and it includes encryption for your hard drive and USB memory sticks. If your PC already has a fingerprint scanner and it’s made by AuthenTec, you can get the software on its own for $30; AuthenTec sensors are used by Asus, Dell, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, LG, Motion Computing, NEC Samsung and Toshiba for notebooks and PCs; and by ACS, APC, Cherry, SCM, Targus and Zvetco for peripherals.
You can log into your email and other password protected applications, and you can add an extra token with HP’s Credential Manager.