FingerprintDon Burleson over at Burleson Consulting has written an interesting survey of Oracle biometrics applications.

With the inherent problems associated with passwords Oracle security administrators are finding that Oracle biometrics is a more secure and cost-effective solution. Oracle biometrics system offer more secure environments and also remove the need to dedicate a help-desk person to manage changing passwords for hundreds of end-users.

It’s interesting to see what’s out there, but as Zach will always remind us, biometrics will not hold up in the long run. As biometrics become commonplace they will be hacked. What will you do when someone steals your fingerprints (or the digital representation of them.) You can’t change them. Hell, you can’t even keep from leaving them behind just about everywhere you go.

If a lock can be opened, it can be picked; and if your password can be used, it can be forged. The more common biometrics become (Don mentions in his article that fingerprint readers are now less than $31) the more folks will set their sights on hacking them. These devices work on common interfaces and pass their information over networks potentially exposing your personal password to unknown parties.

If biometrics catch on you could be required to provide fingerprint identification to use your credit card at your local convenience store. Do you really trust them, or worse yet, the government (who can’t even keep your SSN secure) with your password to your bank account, business account, desktop computer and medical history?

So if biometrics isn’t the holy grail of electronic security what is?

I don’t know what the future of password management is. The most holistic solution I’ve seen yet is the one that Zach and I proposed last year where users are provided with a “password change authorization code” which they are encouraged to keep with their birth certificate (or in another safe place) which allows them to change their password through a self-service page in the case of password loss.

biometrics, fingerprint, security, hacking, hacks, oracle

Make Vol 1: Final Thoughts

Make: Vol 1I finally finished Make: Technology on Your Time, Volume 1 and I must say I am more excited about the magazine than ever. Chock full of projects like “5-in-1 Network Cable” and “How to Make a Magnetic Card Reader” I can see that, though I’ve read every word between these covers, the fun is not nearly over.

Articles about heirloom technology and backyard monorails and other crazy stuff that I can’t believe I didn’t know about already round out the magazine.

There are three impressions I would like to share about this issue. One is am astounded at the consistent quality of the articles. As I delve into issue two and three I can only hope they can maintain the quality of content. I’ll let you know.

Second, I am pleased at the level of advertising. The magazine reads more like a scholarly journal than a trendy tech magazine. There are ads, but they are few and far between, and never did I feel I was distracted from an article by them.

Finally, I was surprised to see so much reference to Macintosh and Mac OS X. Without inciting a platform war the writers have included a lot of information pertaining to OS X. Being a long-time Mac user (now cruelly forced to work on a PC by the evil overlords of… oh wait a minute, getting off topic) I was glad to see the Mac being treated as an equal, if not preferred platform.

So I’m digging straight into Volume 2 and I’ll report back more as I get through. In the meantime I am starting to gather the parts for my home-built mag-stripe reader. For more about why I just had to have this magazine, check out my original article on Make. For anyone who is still just considering buying Make, just one word. Yes.

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MAKE: Magazine, A Must Have!

A MUST HAVE for fellow tinkerers, hacks and geeks!

Friday afternoon I was chatting with a coleague when I saw this magazine on his desk:

Make Voluem 1

Immediately intrigued by the image of a kite tied to a title that read “Aerial Photography Now With Kites!” and additionally drawn in by such cover stories as “Backyard Monorails” and “iPod Tricks” I asked if I could borrow the magazine.

Upon closer examination I noticed the magazine is published by O’Reilly. How could that be a bad thing? Naively believing this would be a magazine I would read only a few articles from I promised the coworker I would return it to him on Monday.

That night I started flipping through the mag and looking at the articles. After going randomly to three or four I realized I was going to read every article in this magazine (those of you who know me will understand how sinificant that is.)

Full of intriguing articles such as “Desktop Rail Gun” and “XM Radio Hacks” this premiere volume of MAKE shows a lot of promise. If you, like I, have a need to know how things work and like a glimpse into cool things going on out there (such as the “Fab Lab” at MIT) then you need this magazine!!!

Well, I’m going to go back to reading about “The Open Source Car” but you can expect to hear more about MAKE from me in the future. For now, they currently have three volumes out which can be purchased individually through Amazon (also through the MAKE website, but cheaper through Amazon.) You can also subscribe through Amazon or MAKE’s website.

Here are some links to get you started:

MAKE: Magazine at

From Amazon:

Volume 1: Premiere
Volume 2: Home Entertainment
Volume 3: Cars and Halloween
Subscription to MAKE

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