IBM touts fingerprint reader in new ThinkPad

IBM said the embedded fingerprint reader in its new ThinkPad will boost security and bring biometrics into the mainstream.

IBM said the release of ThinkPad T42 marks its most significant security advancement since the Embedded Security Subsystem. The notebook comes with a built-in fingerprint reader that eliminates the need for users to remember multiple passwords and makes it the industry's most secure out-of-the-box laptop, company executives said.

The New York computer giant announced the upcoming ThinkPad release today, saying it will raise the bar for the entire PC industry by bringing biometrics into the mainstream.

"Other vendors have fingerprint sensors, but we're the only one to combine it with an embedded security chip and security software," said Ted Aron, worldwide product marketing manager of client security offerings for IBM. "Instead of having to go through multiple passwords to open your programs, all you'll have to do is slide your finger over the reader and it'll log into the various programs simultaneously, taking you from turn-on straight to Windows. And since it will only respond to your fingerprint, hackers won't be able to break in and steal your information."

The fingerprint reader is located on the wrist rest below the arrow keys, Aron said. Users swipe their finger across a small horizontal sensor to log on to their systems, software applications, Web sites and databases.

"The scanning process takes seconds, combining convenience with the strongest notebook security available as a standard feature," Aron added. "This is a slide sensor. It's smaller and more accurate than contact sensors. Slide sensors take snapshots as you slide your finger over it and will create a larger, more detailed fingerprint image."

IBM said the notebook's security teeth are further sharpened by enhancements to the hardware- and software-based Embedded Security Subsystem, with a new level of Client Security Software, Version 5.4, which includes "a secure password manager, simplified ease-of-use and installation, and available by preload for the first time."

The statement added, "The new version allows fingerprint identification and complex passphrases to be used interchangeably or in combination. The new software and the embedded security chip are seamlessly integrated with the fingerprint reader, protecting vital security information, such as encryption keys, electronic credentials and passphrases, and guarding against unauthorized user access."

ThinkPad T42 will be available beginning Oct. 19 through IBM.com and various vendors. Prices start at $1,699.

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