The Windows Club

Secure Windows with Biometric computer security devices

Biometric devices are devices that can be used to recognise our unique identifications, like finger prints or eye retina patterns. In the beginning when this type of security measures were introduced, only big organisations used them to secure data against theft or misuse. In today’s world, biometric devices are found even in consumer laptops (specifically finger print scanner). But is it really worth using biometric devices? Is it really secure? Answers to these questions are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Biometric computer security devices

When it comes to consumer computers, especially laptops, end users prefer Windows. So configuring Windows security with the biometric devices is a bit tricky. Most of the finger-print readers are provided with third party software, that integrates itself with Windows security, to enable authentication via the supported biometric devices. This is because, no native support for the generic drivers for biometric devices are available in Windows.

End users (consumers are focussed here) get excited when they configure Windows to use biometric devices, as the authentication is only their finger. Most of the users configure Windows security up to this level only and do not bother to create a text based password (traditional method).

There is a common notion that “my finger is with me, so no one can copy my finger print and log into my computer”. This is wrong. This is not a recommended practice.

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When the computer is booted in Safe Mode, only the default basic drivers required for working of computers are loaded. Biometric device drivers are not essential for functioning of a computer, and hence, they are not loaded. So in Safe Mode, the computer is not aware of biometric devices being connected to the computer. At this point, only the traditional password works. So if a password is not set, the user account does not have any security enabled, meaning, physical hackers can easily log into the computer from the Safe Mode and take complete control of the computer. This is very simple for hackers because no password is set for the administrator account.

Companies usually use a third-party security tool that protects even the boot menu and prevents physical hackers from getting into Safe Mode. Such tools are not available for consumers, either because it requires a larger infrastructure or is not affordable by individual users.

Secure Windows with Biometric devices

So to really secure computers with biometric devices, a password must also be enabled. Most software have the option to set password as optional – in case the finger is wounded. Advanced security measures can be, enabling two-factor authentication as well as using the password and finger print combination.

Steps to create a password for a user account can be found below:

For Windows 7

1.    Open User Accounts by clicking the Start button > Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety, and then clicking User Accounts.
2.    Click Create a password.
3.    Type the password in the New Password box, and then type the password again in the Confirm New Password box.
4.    If you would like to use a password hint, type the hint in the Password hint box. Make sure that the hint doesn’t help other to guess the password.
5.    Click Create password.

For Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10

1.    Go to Change PC Settings.
2.    In the PC Settings, click on Users on the left pane.
3.    Click on Create a Password button.
4.    Now, type the password of your choice, but make sure it’s strong.
5.    Type the password again for confirmation.
6.    Once completed, in the Type a Password Hint text box, type a hint to guess the password. Make sure that the hint doesn’t help other to guess the password.
7.    Click Finish to complete the process.

Hope you find the post useful!

Guest Post By: Balaji M Kundalam, Microsoft MVP