Siemens to offer fingerprint Internet ID

Published 7 April 2008

To cut down on hacking of bank accounts, Siemens will introduce an Internet ID which scans the user’s fingerprints before allowing him or her access to the bank account

The offense-defense cycle is used by political scientists to explain arms races among states, but the model applies to crime as well: A new type of crime emerges, and an industry is created to offer solutions to it; then a new cycle begins with clever criminals finding new ways to defraud people, and new security solutions offered, and so on. Here is an example: As Internet crime is on the rise, measures are taken to protect bank accounts from online hackers, with the latest being the development of a new Internet ID card that scans a user’s fingerprint before allowing them to make a transaction. The card, from Siemens, is the size of an ATM card and incorporates a fingerprint scanner and six optical sensors. Users will initially scan several fingers over the card so their prints will be stored for later identification. It does not need extra software or hard- ware, so is safe from attacks and can be used on any PC. To make a transaction, the card will scan the user’s finger. The bank’s Web site then sends a flicker code, which the ID card sensors register and decrypt. In the process, the monitor displays six rapidly flashing fields that alternate between black and white. The flicker code contains the details of the funds transfer submitted to the bank and the associated transaction number (TAN). Using an integrated cryptographic key, the card decrypts the code and displays the deciphered information on its small screen. The user checks the transaction data is complete, then confirms the transfer by entering the TAN displayed on the screen.

The card contains information from several fingers including one designated as the ‘emergency finger’, which users can scan if they are being forced to transfer funds under duress. The scan will warn the bank. While the transaction will be completed on the computer monitor, the bank will not actually complete the request. The solution is set for market launch later this year.